Is Now The Right Time to Start Therapy? Key Considerations and Essential Steps to Choose the Best Therapist for You

November 30, 2023

If you have been on the fence about beginning therapy, then this blog is for you. In this blog, I will share some points for consideration if you’re debating if now is the time for you to start therapy and useful tips on how to begin your search for a therapist.

Key Factors Leading to Ambivalence about Starting Therapy


Starting therapy can certainly feel like a big undertaking and finding a therapist who can best meet your needs is an endeavor that will require devoting some time, effort and energy to. If you already feel like life is taking every last drop of your energy just to meet each day, mustering up any additional energy to find a therapist may be the last thing seemingly possible or compelling to do. 

Maybe you have been feeling down for a while, or noticed a spike in anxiety. Perhaps you are dealing with relationship challenges, or maybe you feel lost, empty or insecure or you are aware of having experienced some pretty traumatic life events, wonder if or how they may have impacted you, but also feel dread at the very thought of ever revisiting those experiences. 

We are creatures of habit and we tend to seek the comfort of what is known even if the habit and what is familiar doesn’t serve us. Additionally, the desire to revisit painful experiences or those hurt parts of ourselves doesn’t always rank so high on our list. And so ambivalence or flat out avoidance to seek help and support can prevail and lead us to a path of stagnation rather than healing or growth. 

If you have tried therapy in the past or know someone who did and neither experiences proved useful or effective then doubt in the usefulness of therapy can also take hold and prevent you from getting help you could benefit from. While experience is a rich teacher, it is not always a master predictor. 

Deciding not to pursue therapy now in the present based on what may have been a “failed” or fruitless attempt in the past limits the opportunity to learn from that experience. Instead, consider what conditions or aspects of that experience didn’t work and use that information to guide you to determine what you do and don’t need out of therapy going forward. 

Effective Strategies for Starting Therapy

Ambivalence or uncertainty about seeking therapy doesn’t have to keep you stuck or stagnant. While such feelings are understandable, waiting for them to disappear before taking that first step won’t help either. Consider these questions: 

Do you know how you will know when the time is right for you to seek help?  

Do you know what the exact sign is that you are waiting for that will urge you to take that first step to search for a therapist? 

Are you waiting for a sign from the outside or certain life conditions to change in order for you to seek help? 

When we are not feeling our best, our inner guide can be muffled or skewed and deciphering the “signs’  from within or outside can be clouded. While it’s true that timing is everything and certain times and conditions in life are more ripe and ready for certain ventures than other times, we can also use external conditions as a delay tactic. 

Consider this statistic from the National Comorbidity Study that found on average, it takes about 11 years from the first onset of a mental health condition to the time in which a person seeks therapeutic help and treatment for that condition. ELEVEN YEARS! That’s a decade plus 1 year! That’s 4015 days without help!  How long are you willing to wait before seeking out support?

Key Questions to Ask When Choosing the Right Therapist for You

For therapy to be effective it needs the following: investment of self, clarity of needs and an appropriate fit between therapist and client. At this point, now that you have worked with your ambivalence a bit and may be feeling more ready to reach out, where do you start?

It can take some time to find the right fit, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. There can be many questions to consider such as where to go, how do you know who to trust with yourself and what modality or style of therapy can meet my needs? The next best step is to grab a piece of paper and a pen or pencil and give yourself at least 10-15 minutes to begin to answer the following questions. These questions will help you better pinpoint what type of 

  • What is going on for me? How would I explain what is troubling me? Write down all you can about what it is that you struggle with. Writing out your feelings and experiences on paper, not typing on a keyboard, can provide you with a different, more illuminating and deeper experience of those feelings.
  • What am I looking for from a therapist? Try to be as specific as possible about what you are seeking from a therapist. If you wish to feel “happier” or more “ease” and ”contentment” specify what happier or ease or contentment might feel like and look like for you on a daily basis. 
  • Do I prefer speaking with a male, female or gender fluid therapist?
  • Do I feel more comfortable speaking to a therapist with a similar cultural background to my own or am I open to talking with someone with a different background?
  • How important is the age range of the therapist to me? 
  • Do I prefer to meet in person for therapy or does virtual teletherapy work better for me or a mix of the two would be interesting?
  • How important is therapist proximity/convenience in location to me?
  • Do I need to look for a therapist who is “in-network” with and accepts my health insurance, or do I need a therapist who offers a sliding scale fee or can I pay out of pocket their full fee as long as I feel a good and worthwhile connection between us?
  • Do I have any friends or trusted people I feel comfortable enough with to ask for a referral for a therapist?
  • How soon am I looking to get started? 
  • How much time do I have to commit to this process? Can I devote at least an hour a week to my self-care or am I juggling too much and is a half-hour a week or one hour every two weeks more realistic?

 

Essential Tips for Finding the Right Therapist

Once you answer the questions listed above, next you are ready to start your therapist search, A few upsides of the covid pandemic was that it put teletherapy on the map of reliable treatment options thereby making more therapists more accessible to many who previously could not “make it into” or were not located in close proximity to a therapist’s physical office. 

Websites such as psychologytoday.com or goodtherapy.org can be sound resources listing therapists by specialty, zip code, health insurance and more.  Also, trusted friends or medical doctors can be additional avenues to find referrals for therapists. And typing into a Google search criteria you are looking for can provide a list of names to reach out to. Your answers to the questions above will help guide your search and outreach efforts. 

For instance, if you specified that you are feeling social anxiety and prefer a male therapist for teletherapy who is in network with your insurance, then that is where you start. 

Whether you are new to therapy or have had past experiences and wish to get started again, taking time to meet for an initial consultation with at least 2 different therapists can provide you the opportunity to get a sense of how you feel with them, how they work and the chance to ask them questions about how they might think about and approach what you are seeking help with. 

The quality of the relationship between you and your therapist is most vital in guiding your work together. Safety and honesty is paramount and essential for good work to take root and progress. Taking the time to consider what your needs are and what you wish to accomplish through therapy will steer you in the direction of finding a therapist that can be of best help and guide you on your path of healing and growth. 

We have more information for you in our short ebook to get here, How to Get the Best Results From Therapy

And you can find more tips here on how to find the right therapist for you. 

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