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There's a Therapist Shortage. 4 Tips to Still Find the Right One for You

Our tips and tricks to finding the right therapist for you this winter season.

Caroline Igo Editor, Sleep
Caroline Igo (she/her/hers) is a wellness editor and holds Sleep Science Coach and Stress Management certificates from the Spencer Institute. She received her bachelor's degree in creative writing from Miami University and continues to further her craft in her free time. Before joining CNET, Caroline wrote for past CNN anchor, Daryn Kagan.
Expertise Sleep, mattress accessories, vitamins and supplements, nutrition & personal care Credentials
  • Carl R. Greer/Andrew D. Hepburn Award for Best Nonfiction Essay (Miami University, 2020)
Caroline Igo
5 min read
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The winter season throws a lot at you -- family, work, holidays and personal responsibilities. In addition to the season's harsh weather, winter can trigger major health issues such as seasonal affective disorder. You may find that now, more than ever, you need help managing your stress, anxiety and depression. You aren't alone. 

As a result of the pandemic, the number of people seeking therapy has skyrocketed. According to a survey conducted by the American Psychological Association in November of 2020, 74% of psychologists reported seeing more patients with anxiety, and 60% are seeing more patients with depression than before the start of the pandemic. However, another side effect of the pandemic is a therapist shortage. 

The demand for therapy has gone up, and the number of people available to talk with has gone down. But that doesn't mean you can't get help. Here's how to find the best therapist in your area.

Want more tips? Check out foods to eat for dry skin this winter and 7 natural aids for insomnia

Most common types of therapy

There are five main approaches to therapy: psychoanalysis, behavior, cognitive, humanistic and integrative. Within these five main categories, there are many specific types of therapy you might encounter. Here are the most common:

Cognitive Behavior Therapy: Therapy that identifies thought patterns that lead to negative feelings. CBT also teaches positive coping skills. It is used to treat a wide range of conditions like depression, anxiety, substance abuse and eating disorders.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy: This method focuses on regulating heavy emotions, connecting with others, finding healthy coping skills and integrating mindfulness. DBT is often used to treat borderline personality disorder in women, eating disorders and severe depression. 

Client-Centered Therapy: This is a type of psychotherapy where the therapist doesn't give advice but rather offers great compassion, positivity and empathy. Through this process of talking and support, clients become self-aware. CCT is used to treat lots of conditions such as depression.

Psychodynamic Therapy: This type of talk therapy aims to find the psychological root of the problem or ailment while deeply understanding emotions. It is rooted in the idea that through talking about problems, clients can self-reflect and develop coping skills. It is often used to treat stress, anxiety and depression.

Read more: What Is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?

Finding the best therapist

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Beginning your healing journey may seem daunting, but the hardest part is knowing where to start. You have options and plenty of resources at your fingertips.

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Here are a few starting places to consider.

Word of mouth 

Ask your family and friends, peers and colleagues for recommendations. Word travels fast about the best therapists in the area. 

Your healthcare provider 

Oftentimes, your healthcare provider will have a mental health unit. Look at the directory or ask your primary physician. 

Online resources

The most common means for finding a mental health professional is a quick Google search of therapists available in your area. If those results get too overwhelming, here are some tools that break it down for you. 

Specialized resources:

Local groups

You can look into local resources if you have depleted your online options. Your school, church, community or workplace might have connections to professionals in the area or in online programs (often at a discounted rate, especially if it is through your university or place of work). 

Local support groups are another great way to not only connect with a trained physician but others in similar situations. You can locate local support groups through Mental Health America and Psychology Today.

Read more: Best Mental Health Apps

Narrowing the search 

You have found a few individual therapists after much searching -- now what? How do you know if one is a better fit for you than another? Here are a few aspects to consider before booking the first appointment with a new therapist:

Are they well-versed in your area of concern? 

Choose someone who has experience treating your condition, whether that be grief, trauma, anxiety or depression. 

Do they serve your age group?

Look for their area of expertise; some therapists only take child clients. 

Are they covered by insurance?

Some practitioners are covered by Medicare or Medicaid or other private insurance providers. If you are worried about paying out of pocket, find out if your insurance covers your sessions. 

Do they speak your preferred language?

Your comfortability is key. The right therapist for you will speak the language you feel most at ease with. 

Is your therapist right for you?

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You finally found a therapist that you like and scheduled your first session. There is still a chance that this professional may not be the perfect fit for you. During your first or second appointment, ask yourself:

  • Am I comfortable sharing personal information with this person?
  • Do I feel truly understood and heard?
  • Will this person help me reach the goals I have set for myself?
  • Does this person validate my experiences?
  • Do I feel as if I am the center of our conversations?

If you answer "no" to any of these questions, chances are this therapist isn't a good fit for you. It might take a few tries to find the right one. 

Remember that therapy will not always be comfortable, but you need to make sure your provider creates a space that is welcoming. There is no shame in having to tell a professional that you may not be a good match, and they should do the same for you. Repeat these steps as many times as you wish until you find the best therapist for you. 

Our tips don't end here. Read 6 tips for using this dietary supplement as a sleep aid and 12 tips to prevent TV placement regret

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.