by Kelley McCarthy
Before meeting someone new, I get anxious, my heart races and my palms sweat. I REALLY want to cancel . But I shouldn’t. I can’t. I need to meet this person. They are going to be great, I tell myself.
Then there is that lovely awkward moment when you do finally meet them. You give them a semi-fake smile, a handshake and then you wait for that dreaded question. ” So, tell me about yourself,” they ask.
“Oh no, where do I start?” I think to myself. Then my leg starts twitching, my body starts to hunch over and my eyes are staring at the ground. Finally, I take a deep breath and look up and reopen the wound of my past. I didn’t want to go there, but it is my best option. The person I am meeting for the first time is my new therapist.
While slowly reopening the wound I call the past, it was important that I opened up and shared a part of me that not many people know about. I am pretty good at keeping everything to myself, tucked deep in my soul where it should never be spoken about. Got to love being raised Italian-Irish Catholic!
When I lived in South Bend, I took a HUGE step: I found a therapist. It took me months to build a trusting relationship with her.She saw past my bullshit, provided me with affirmation and helped me work through some anxiety issues, But then I moved. For a long time now, I have been dreading the moment when I knew I would have to find someone new. I really thought I could make the hour-long trip, one way to South Bend once a month, but once a month wasn’t enough for me. I needed more consistency. So my search happened after I had a few too many breakdowns/panic attacks. I had to finally face my fear of starting over.
While I know this process looks different for everyone, here are some things that I did to find my new therapist.
- I started with www.psychologytoday.com – This website is designed to help anyone find a therapist in their area by entering their zip code. The site also has other helpful tools such as different articles about a verity of topics, ask the expert section, and a section to learn more about the many mental health illnesses.
- Looking for specialization – I was able to find someone who specialized in the area that I needed, which I know can help in making treatment better for me.
- Gender – I know this isn’t a big deal for everyone, but it was helpful to me to know a little more about who I was seeing.
- Reading the profile – Again, this is just something that I like to do to know a little more about my therapist. Where did they get their degree? How long have they been practicing? What is their philosophy on how they practice?
- Looking at their picture – File this under knowing a little more about them – and obviously determining if I’d feel comfortable going to someone who uses a bathroom selfie or a picture of them holding a beer at a party as their professional headshot.
- Making the call – Once I found my person, I was able to pick up the phone and make the call. I also get a better feel for fit if they are able to take a few minutes to speak with me.
Finding a new therapist can be scary, but I’ve found that it helps to take some time to research possible professionals. What would you add to this list?
Kelley McCarthy is a residential learning coordinator at Valparaiso University in Valparaiso, Indiana, where she oversees a residence hall of upperclass students. Her experience as an undergraduate at the University of Saint Joseph inspired her to pursue a career in higher education where she could continue working with and mentoring college women. In 2012, Kelley graduated from Nova Southeastern University (Go Sharks!) with her masters degree in student affairs with a concentration in conflict resolution. During her free time, she enjoys watching All My Children (the best soap opera ever), blogging, running and shopping at New York and Company! You can find her on Twitter @kmccarthy8185.