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Choosing a therapist

Alexandra Verreault ,

In a previous post, I offered you some food for thought regarding the right time to see a therapist. If you decided to go for it, good job! That takes a lot of courage. Now that you've made your choice, you have a few not-so-easy steps to take before your first appointment. Here is a series of posts meant to help demystify the process by explaining what you can expect once you’ve decided to seek the help of a therapist.

Once you've decided you want to see a therapist, the first thing to do is to choose one. Do you want someone who works in the public or the private sector? Do you want it to be a man or a woman? Do you want them to have a certain number of years of experience? What kind of approach should they use?

All these questions can quickly lead to confusion or anxiety. It's easy to get lost in the various approaches, the pros and cons of each choice, etc. Don't hesitate to help yourself by doing some research. Most psychologists don’t advertise all their services. One of the best ways to learn more about the therapists in your community and check their credentials is to visit the Ordre des Psychologues du Québec website. You’ll find information on their target clientele, approaches, and areas of expertise; some even have pictures! During your research, make sure you look at where their office is located (if it's far away, it could complicate things for you).

You can also ask people around you; word-of-mouth can be very effective. Hearing about your neighbour’s friend's experience with a specific therapist could make you want to contact them, or, conversely, avoid them. Lastly, don't hesitate to call therapists you're interested in to learn more about their approach or fees. You’ll get the chance to establish a contact with them and get a feel for their vibe.

And that, after all, is what's important. Years of experience, the approach, the location... All of these are important factors in this decision, but in the end, you have to trust your gut. How you feel about seeing a specific therapist, how comfortable their photo makes you feel, what their website description of their approach evokes in you, how their voice sounds over the phone... Those are all factors to be considered. You’ll be building more than a professional relationship with your therapist; you’ll have to build a relationship of trust. And to do so, you’ll have to base your choice on something more than their credentials or experience.

Alexandra Verreault

Psychologist, Development Assistant - Clinical division

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