How To Find A Great Therapist In NYC

Nov 02, 2023
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How To Find A Great Therapist In NYC

Seeking therapy is a courageous and commendable step toward improving mental health and overall well-being. However, finding the right therapist “fit” can be overwhelming, particularly in Manhattan, a borough teeming in highly skilled psychotherapists.  Further, given the hefty price tag for therapy - a commodity rarely covered by medical insurance - therapist “hopping” can drain your bank account, leaving you feeling more depressed, rather than better.  Below you’ll find a few tips for accelerating the process of finding a good therapist, so you can save valuable time, money, and unnecessary distress: 

Clarify your goals and needs

Before embarking on your search for a therapist, it's crucial to have a clear understanding of your goals and needs.  Ask yourself, if therapy went as well as possible:  a) how would I feel?  b) how would my life circumstances and relationships be different?  c) what would I be doing better or differently?  Common therapy goals include improved stress management, anxiety or depression reduction, greater relationship success and fulfillment, reducing fears, and personal growth. The greater clarity you have about what you seek in therapy, the better equipped you’ll be to spot a potential therapist match.  Additionally, conveying therapy goals in an initial consultation allows prospective therapists to determine whether they can be of help.   

Learn about the Types of Therapy

There are various therapeutic approaches, and it's important to choose one that’s been demonstrated to be effective in reaching your therapy goals.  Further, certain approaches may align better with your personality style and preferences.  Some are more action-oriented, for example, whereas others more explorative and insight-oriented.  Certain approaches are short-term and target specific symptoms, whereas others are broader in compass, and tend to take place over a longer stretch of time.  Here's a brief overview of a few common therapy approaches.  There are many more:

  1. Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT): Focuses on identifying and changing negative thought patterns and maladaptive behaviors that contribute to or worsen unwanted mood symptoms. Scientifically-supported treatment for anxiety, depression, OCD, irrational fears, and worry.

  2. Psychodynamic Therapy: Helps clients develop insight into unconscious thoughts, wants, and needs.  Developing insight, in turn, allows clients to recognize how coping styles, behaviors, and beliefs established early in life might no longer serve them. 

  3. Internal Family Systems (IFS): Rooted in the idea that everyone has several “parts” of their personality that sometimes conflict with each other.  Clients discover their “core self,” which then mediates over the other parts of the self.  Effective for reaching self-acceptance, personal growth, and self-actualization. 

  4. Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT):  Couples learn to expand their emotional response patterns so that they can more effectively express their needs and respond to those of their partner. Demonstrated to be highly effective in elevating relationship satisfaction and connection.

  5. Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR): Bilateral stimulation, such as eye movements, helps clients reprocess traumatic memories to reduce their emotional charge, allowing for more adaptive beliefs and emotions to emerge.

  6. Eclectic: Draws upon one or more therapeutic approaches.

 Gather Recommendations

Ask people you trust for recommendations.  These might include:

  • Friends and Family: Ask people who know you well and who you share something in common with for recommendations. 

  • Healthcare Professionals: Primary care physicians and other healthcare professionals, such as dieticians or acupuncturists, often collaborate with psychotherapists and therefore might have suggestions.  

  • Mental Health Organizations or Therapists you Know: Local mental health organizations and non-profits often keep referral lists.

Research Online

The internet is a valuable resource for finding therapists. Psychology Today, ZocDoc, and TherapyDen, are examples of therapist directories. You can typically search according to location, specialization, and the issue(s) you’d like to address. Review therapist profiles, noting qualifications, experience, and treatment focus and approach.

Consult with Prospective Therapists

Schedule a brief phone or zoom consultation with therapists who appeal to you.  Let them know what you seek in therapy and how you hope they can be of help.  Here are some questions you might ask:

  1. How much experience do you have in treating my issue? 

  2. How would you describe your approach? 

  3. Can you accommodate my schedule and budget? 

  4. Are you accustomed to working with clients from a similar background and culture?

  5. Is there anything else you think I should know about working with you?

Assess your Sense of Connection

The connection between therapist and client is essential to a positive outcome.  After meeting with your therapist, ask yourself:

  1. How comforting and trusting do I feel of this person? Can you imagine being open and honest with them?  Do you feel free from judgment in their presence? 

  2. Support & empathy: Does the therapist seem to understand and empathize with your concerns and emotions? 

  3. Alignment: Do the therapist’s responses and approach resonate with you?

Consider Logistics

Before committing to a particular therapist, take into account how long and how regularly you’ll be able to engage in appointments given the therapist’s fee and location.  Therapy works best when engaged in at a regular interval, typically once per week.  Less frequent sessions tend to water down the benefits.  Further, ensure you’ll be able to continue sessions for a stretch of time.  If you only have the funds to cover one month of session fees, you might explore reduced-cost options.  There are plenty of excellent training centers and pre-licensed therapists who offer lower fees. 

Seek Feedback

If you can find them, client reviews and testimonials can provide valuable insight into a therapist's effectiveness. Look for feedback from former or current clients to gain a better understanding of their experiences and outcomes with the therapist.

Trust Your Instincts

Ultimately, your intuition plays a crucial role in the therapist selection process. If something doesn't feel right during your initial interactions or early sessions, it's okay to explore other options. Finding the right therapist may require some trial and error, and that's perfectly normal.

Finding a great therapist is a journey that might require time and effort. You’ll save time and money, however, by trusting your gut and doing your due diligence before fully diving in.  As in any relationship, you won’t reap the benefits if you don’t choose well!