Ok, you have decided you are finally ready for therapy. So, how do you find a good therapist? And when I say “good”, I don’t mean qualified, because most practicing therapists are legally qualified; I’m talking about someone who listens, respects you, has beneficial input and someone with whom you are comfortable with. It is important that you are comfortable with your therapist because if you don’t have a framework of trust, it’s not going to work.
You can call your insurance company for a list of names, you can seek free or low cost therapy, you can ask your school councilor for referrals, you can google “ocd therapist near….”
Phew! So, now you have some names, and then you make the calls. When I called the therapists on my list, I left messages with almost every single one of them. Many returned my call and when they did, I had a list of questions ready:
- Do you have experience treating OCD? If not, then don’t even bother. Not all therapy is equivalent. Some types can actually make things worse; so stick with what’s been proven to work. If they say “no”, you can ask for referrals or advice on how to find one. This is actually the way I found mine.
- Are you accepting new clients? If not, but you really want them, you can wait. Or move on.
- What kind of therapy do you use to treat OCD? i.e. ACT, CBT, EMDR…It is wise to do a little reading on the difference between these types of therapy. You can always ask the therapist as well. My therapist asked if I would prefer to go with the ACT approach or the CBT approach. He explained both and I picked the one that sounded best to me.
- What are your rates and do you accept insurance or offer sliding scale?
- Ask to setup an orientation or first meeting if you think everything sounds good. Keep in mind, a first session is most often you discussing your history, filling out a questionnaire and feeling things out.
The first therapist I tried out was awful. She seemed nice, but when I talked about my history, she made comments that really just pushed my buttons. I felt judged. At the end of the session, she gave me some pages from an OCD workbook to do as homework. I was less than impressed.
I left, not really sure if that was normal or not. I didn’t like her, I knew that much, but I wasn’t sure if I should give her a few sessions to make sure. I also wondered if maybe I was trying to get out of therapy subconsciously. I told the story to my husband and sister and I realized that the more I talked about it, the more it bothered me and I decided not to see her again and to look elsewhere.
I started calling other therapists and I began asking the ones who said they had no experience in treating OCD if they could recommend someone. One suggested I check with anxiety center in my area and I found a therapy group specifically geared to treat OCD. I spoke to one on the phone and decided to give him a try.
I had my first session with him and I knew he was going to be the one I wanted to help me. I felt comfortable and agreed with his philosophies on treatment. Everything felt “right” and I have been seeing him for a few months now.
The search may be frustrating as it was for me, but when you find a good one, it will be worth it.