Starting therapy for my issues with depression and anxiety was a tough choice to make. I realized the time was necessary after an uber devastating life event and I felt like I had no one to talk to or to help me process. Fortunately, I knew exactly what I did and didn’t want in a mental health professional. The task was still slightly daunting but ultimately I’ve been able to find someone who meets my needs and shares my goals for this process.
First, I knew I wanted a black woman. Not just a woman, not a black person, but a black woman. Black women share a unique set of experiences and understandings that no other group of people on the planet can identify with; I needed someone who would get me and would have some basic knowledge of my experiences. This was the most important thing on my “must have” list, if I could have nothing else in this journey, I needed to have a black woman get me through this. When I was 16 I saw a therapist for a few weeks and it was the most awkward situation ever, he was about 60 and Caucasian, I was so uncomfortable I never went back.
Second, I needed an affordable mental health professional. I’m blessed to have pretty good insurance and my sessions are covered at 100% with no-copays. This was important to me because there is no way I could pay out of pocket session after session, over time that puts a pretty big dent in the budget and my bank account isn’t there yet. I was able to call my insurance and get an overview of my benefits and coverage eligibility, and also request a list of therapists in my network that met my search criteria.
Finally, when contacting therapists I asked about their methods. I wanted to know that this wouldn’t just be a series of tough conversations but sessions that included action points and markers to indicate progress or more effort required. I don’t need a girlfriend to vent to so I sought out someone who I felt would put me to work on this journey. I was totally fine with seeing someone who does not prescribe medication but can refer me to someone who can if that becomes necessary.
An extra perk is major flexibility when it comes to scheduling. We create appointments up to a month in a advance that will work and they can always be adjusted. I also appreciate that virtual appointments are also an option (using a secure online video app) for weeks when my schedule won’t permit me to go into her office.
Ultimately, what worked for me in choosing her is that I know I need work. I want to grow. I want to be better and I want to find the root cause of the things I deal with. It takes a special kind of person to dig that out and develop plans for recovery and maintenance. Thus far, things have been going well and I’m glad I chose my therapist. She literally goes above and beyond for my treatment and I couldn’t ask for more.
This factors I used to choose my therapist are not the end all be all to making the choice. These are things I knew I needed to make this a successful endeavor. Knowing what you want out of your therapy experience (setting goals before you even meet your therapist helps) is what matters most choosing the best person for you.
If you’ve been to (or are currently in) therapy feel free to share how you chose your therapist/mental health professional. Let’s chat in the comments below!