How to find a good therapist

Okay. I’ll be honest. I don’t really know. I’m kind of a noob when it comes to therapy. But…I can tell you what I’ve been doing.

First, the good news. I do have an appointment with someone this Saturday, who specializes in PTSD, trauma, and all that fun stuff, so I hope that it works out between us. Then again, it may not, but thinking about that makes me worry and I’m trying not to go down that dark path again.

Because I saw the Employee Assistant Program counseling as a temporary hold, a bandaid until I could get hold of a counselor, I went ahead and canceled that EAP appointment for tonight. I didn’t feel like going through the same story twice in a week. It was hard enough to write my brief trauma bio for the other therapist (she was kind enough to let me email instead of talk on the phone. I don’t do that well on the phone.)

So, here’s what I did to find a therapist:

First, I had the referrals from my psychiatrist–three PsyD people to look into. My husband called them for me. No openings in the evenings or weekends.

Then, I turned to Google. Google, the solution to every searching problem, and the cause of many more. There seems to be a number of therapist databases, and I ended up using just one, run by Psychology Today, since, well, that is a big-name website.

Psychology Today has a fairly good database of counselors that you could search according to certain criteria–like type of insurance, specialties, etc. I found that it was easier to search for just one criteria (Trauma and PTSD) within Chicago as a whole, and then just read through the whole list.

(I can see my librarian friends cringing at my search method.)

Maybe it wasn’t easier. Maybe I just really really didn’t want to automatically exclude anyone who might be helpful just because they lived .1 miles outside of a 5 mile range. Maybe it’s paranoia. Or being careful. I call it being careful.

I made a Google Docs with the list of people, their address, and specialties, and their contact information. Then I emailed them through the Psychology Today-provided form. And yes, that meant I did demote a few people to “second round of contacts” just  because they preferred being called instead. I figured if they allow emails, they would be fairly kind to the fact that I’m hard of hearing. And it keeps me from putting too much of a burden on my husband.

I asked if they had availability after work or on weekends. With all the shit that happened relating to work, I didn’t feel comfortable asking for a semi-permanent hours adjustment just to go to counseling.

I heard back from most people within a few hours–no, they had no openings. Some gave me referrals, which I greatly appreciated–then I found out that these referrals had no specialty in PTSD, landing them on my “third round of contacts” list. It was kind of discouraging. So many people were booked up. So many people need help.

One therapist was willing to meet with me on Saturday mornings–but cautioned me that she was closing out her city office and focusing on the one in the suburbs. Seriously in the suburbs. Zone D on Metra. She sounded so nice, but it was a bit far. That would be a fallback if I couldn’t find anyone in the city.

I sent out more emails. Finally, one person replied with referrals who actually did have trauma training. I looked them up, and contacted them both. Both were able to get me in this Saturday, so I decided to try one and then get back to the other if the first one didn’t work out.

Who knows if this person will work out? As a friend said, finding a therapist isn’t like finding an accountant. It’s more like choosing a lover.

Yet, I’m hopeful.

By the way, many many thanks to everyone who has commented on here or on Facebook–you guys have all kept me sane. Well, sane enough, anyway! I truly appreciate it.


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  • Womencare Counseling in Evanston on Ridge Road. Easily accessible by train. Seriously. They are EXCELLENT and specialize in trauma. Oh, and they see clients evenings and weekends. MTM.

  • In reply to Mary Tyler Mom:

    Thanks so much for the referral, MTM!

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    If you find Psychology Today overwhelming, try - it has short video clips of therapists so you can see which ones you like before you make the first call.

  • In reply to davidavich:

    Thanks--that's fantastic! How did I not find that when I was googling around?

  • fb_avatar

    It's new-ish. Glad you like it!

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