Finding a therapist 101

Finding a therapist 101

How to Find a Therapist

Is better mental healthcare one of your new year’s resolutions? Are you looking to start therapy virtually or in person, but are utterly confused about where to start your search? Worry not, you are in the right place. In this post, I will explain to you what therapy is, why you should start it and 10 tips to find a therapist who is the right fit for you.

Before I get into the nitty-grits of how to find a therapist. Let’s first understand who a therapist is, what we do, and why you may need one.  

A therapist is a trained mental healthcare professional who helps you work through unpleasant emotions, thoughts, and behaviors and gives you the skills to cope better with the psychological challenges that life may throw at you.  In India, the minimum qualifications for a practicing psychologist are a master’s degree in psychology. [1] Therapists help you by providing a safe space to explore unpleasant thoughts, feelings, emotions, and behaviors and give you the skills to either cope with or improvise them. 

Some Things to Work On in Therapy

  • Feel overwhelmed by a life situation or concern
  • Lack the motivation to get things done, over long periods of time
  • Get angry/ upset more often and intensely than usual
  • Feel hopeless about life in general
  • Get anxious about the future, frequently
  • Want to build better habits or make better decisions
  • Want to improve personal relationships
  • Anything else that you may want to work with
Figure 2: A clipboard with Mental Health Services written in black.

[1] Please do not consider life coaches or any occult science consultants like astrologers and numerologists as mental health professionals. While their services may be helpful they are not classified as trained mental health professionals as per the Mental Health Act, of 2017. 

Now that you know who a therapist is; here are 10 tips to find a therapist who is a good fit for you.

  • Ask Trusted People
    Looking for a therapist can be overwhelming. Start with asking some trusted individuals who may either be in therapy or a friend who is a therapist themselves. This will make it easier to access a therapist and beat the overwhelming.
  • Check Authentic Mental Health Directories
    We understand that there is still some stigma attached to seeking therapy and you may not always be comfortable talking about this with friends and family.  We have got you covered. You can also look for a therapist who specializes in your goals on authentic mental health aggregators like The MindClan and Therapy route. They have a large number of qualified therapists who work with a variety of concerns listed. Here, you are sure to find a therapist who works for you.
  • Plan Your Budget
    Starting therapy is a big financial and emotional commitment. Instead of getting overwhelmed by therapy charges that may be beyond your budget. Set a therapy budget aside and look for a therapist who offers therapy in your budget. Don’t let finances come in the way of good better mental health.
  • Finalize Your Preferred Mode of Therapy
    Since the Covid -19 pandemic, therapy has become largely virtual and is offered over audio or video calls from the comfort of your home. While that makes therapy more accessible and saves you travel time, it may be difficult for you to find a private space. On the other hand, in-person therapy comes with a guarantee of a private and confidential space. Think about what works best for you and look for a therapist accordingly. 
  • Think About Therapist Demographics
    By therapist demographics, I mean characteristics such as age, gender, socioeconomic, cultural, or political stances. While these may seem insignificant, they play a crucial role in the quality of your therapeutic relationship. For example, as a woman in India, you may find it hard to open up to a male therapist and he may not be able to relate to your concerns effectively. Think about the demographics that work for you and search for a therapist accordingly.  
Figure 2: A man of color in session with a therapist of color
  • Check Qualifications and Expertise
    Review the qualifications of all potential therapists before booking your first session. Remember that the minimum qualification to practice as a therapist or a counseling psychologist in India is a master’s in psychology. A therapist works with behavioral and emotional difficulties. If you are looking for a mental health diagnosis, please make sure you visit a clinical psychologist.  A clinical psychologist holds an M.Phil. degree and a license to practice from an educational institution recognized by the rehabilitation council of India. A psychiatrist is a medical doctor who prescribes medicines for mental health conditions[1]. Make sure to consult with the mental health professional best suited to your needs.
  • Set Therapy Goals
    The first step towards finding a therapist is to get some clarity on what you would like to work on in therapy. Spend some alone time and reflect o some of the things you would want to improve about your life. These may include making better decisions, building better relationships, or getting less angry. You may also ask some trusted people e.g., family and friends about what are some of the areas that you could work on in your life. Make a list of these topics. These are the areas that your potential therapist should specialize in.Please know that these goals are not set in stone and are always a work in progress.

[1] While a psychologist, clinical psychologist and psychiatrist are all mental health professionals, the differ in terms of education, training and services offered. They often work as a team and there is no hierarchy between them.

Hope this blog helps you in your journey to finding a therapist and taking a step toward better mental health. Start your search for a good therapist by considering practical matters such as budget, qualification, expertise, location, and mode of therapy. You may find that friends working or studying mental health-related subjects may be a good source of referrals. Once you have narrowed down your search it may be helpful to consider your goals for therapy. If you are looking to book a session with a therapist right now, contact us now. 

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