Deciding to get therapy is a vital step toward prioritizing and improving your overall wellness and mental health. I consider finding my therapist five years ago one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
And I’m not alone.
Studies have shown there are so many science-backed benefits to seeing a therapist. Therapy can be a game changer for improving relationships, helping reduce anxiety, and increasing happiness and focus.
Whether you’re looking for support in grief from loss of a loved one, assistance in addressing stress and anxiety at work, recovery from trauma, or help in developing better emotional skills or sleep habits—you might wonder how to find the right therapist.
Sometimes it’s hard to even realize you need a therapist.
After I competed in the 2016 Rio Olympics, I struggled with overwhelming post-Olympic depression. I went through months of anguish and sadness before I finally realized I needed to seek help.
This was five years ago—during a time before I knew about online therapist directories like Monarch.
"This is a platform that can save lives."
Unfortunately, without the Monarch mental health therapist directory, back when I was looking for therapy, I found it incredibly frustrating and time-consuming to find a therapist and book an appointment.
To make it quicker and easier for more people to get help, I’m sharing what I learned from my journey below.
Key questions when seeking a therapist
First off, decide if it’s important to meet your therapist in-person or whether you prefer to meet with them over video.
Many therapists now offer remote telehealth services via video chat. Remote therapy can be an excellent option for people who may struggle with transportation, who live in remote areas, or who simply prefer to stay at home.
Here’s a fast, easy way to find therapists who offer telehealth video options.
Other important questions to consider are whether you’re seeking a therapist for yourself as an individual, or someone who specializes in couples therapy or family therapy.
After that, you can get even more specific and find therapists who specialize in helping people with trauma, PTSD, depression, anxiety, grief, sleep issues, and many other concerns.
Back when I was seeking therapy, I found it overwhelming to find a good therapist online.
Monarch makes finding the right therapist so much quicker and easier, and it would’ve saved me a ton of time.
On Monarch you can search for therapists by location, areas of speciality, whether they take your insurance, and also whether they have any availability on the days and times that work for your schedule. The very best part is you can even request an initial appointment online.
I’m overjoyed to discover that a website like Monarch exists and honored to be partnering and spreading the word, because—simply put, this is a platform that can save lives.
Finding the right therapist for you is essential
Therapy can be as tricky as dating.
And—like a bad date—after my very first therapy appointment, I actually felt worse.
Whether it was our incompatible personalities or a lack of chemistry, I didn’t click with the first therapist I saw. At the end of our appointment, I left feeling as if I’d taken a step back.
But I still knew therapy could help me. Luckily, I had kept my appointment with the second therapist on my list.
And I’m so glad I did! He was incredible—absolutely the right therapist for me.
That was five years ago. My work with him has saved my life.
I now realize it’s OK that things didn’t work out for me with the very first therapist I saw.
A type of therapy that works wonders for you may not help your best friend to address their unique concerns.
Similar to physical therapy, there are dozens of different therapeutic techniques and approaches to solve problems in the body.
Perhaps a sore hamstring can benefit from deep tissue massage or perhaps it requires physical therapy exercises. Both are considered therapeutic approaches. However, each of these approaches can feel entirely different to the client and possibly get them better—or worse—results. It’s a similar idea when you’re working on your mental health.
Just as there are many different topics and emotions to address in therapy, there are many different therapeutic approaches—from cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) to psychoanalysis to EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing)—and, of course, one size does not fit all.
I'm glad I stayed committed and continued searching until I found the right therapist and therapy style that worked for me. The extra legwork was absolutely worth it.
It's natural to feel overwhelmed at the prospect of searching for a therapist who feels like the right fit for your needs.
My 4 time-saving tips for getting a great therapist
As a record-setting Olympic runner, author (my new memoir Bravey is now available), actor, and screenwriter, I appreciate innovations that save me time while still getting excellent results.
With that in mind, here are my tips that can help you find the right therapist fast:
1. Consult a reliable online directory
Luckily, I can help you avoid some of the exhausting research I needed to do.
You can also search by keywords like “anxiety,” “depression,” or “grief.” For example, you can quickly find all the therapists in New York City who specialize in anxiety or all the therapists in Oakland who specialize in depression.
From there, you can filter results to see only therapists who accept your insurance and have availability to take on new patients.
Five years back, when I was wading through my own search for therapists, it was frustrating to find someone who seemed great for me, only to call their office and discover I couldn't get an appointment for months or that they didn't accept my insurance.
Being able to find therapists who can meet with you now is incredibly important. Monarch understands that.
2. Trust your instincts
The therapists who appear in your Monarch search results will typically have a profile picture and a few sentences describing themselves. Ideally, this can help you get a glimpse into the person's overall personality and vibe. If you think someone may click with you or you’re curious to learn more about them, open up their profile in a new tab.
Therapy is such a personal experience. So much of its effectiveness comes down to the connection you feel with your therapist. Trust your instincts and—at least—allow yourself to make gut decisions based on the impression you get from the online profiles.
3. Test things out by booking a free consultation online
Most therapists in the Monarch directory offer free consultations.
Think of a consultation kind of like a first date over coffee. You're not going to learn each other's life stories, but you will interact enough to get a sense of how your personalities may mesh. Monarch makes it super easy to book these appointments online, and you can do it all from the therapist's profile page.
Don't feel pressure to get to any major solutions for your challenges during the consultation, it's really just about getting a sense for personal vibes. Is this a person you feel comfortable and safe around? Will you look forward to talking with them on a regular basis? Therapy is all about what's useful to you.
4. If you don’t know what to ask, here’s what to say
If you don’t know what questions to ask during your first consultation meeting with a therapist, you’re not alone. To help, here are 13 questions to ask your new therapist.
An additional useful technique I discovered is: you can briefly describe your symptoms, and then ask the therapist what their thoughts are about you potentially becoming a patient of theirs.
Then, if they say they think you are a great fit for their expertise, you can ask them what questions or topics they think would be most helpful for the two of you to discuss during the consultation. Therapists are professionals, and they understand better than anyone the personal nature of the therapist-patient relationship. They’re here to help.
Finally, the most important piece of advice I have is to trust and believe that you can be helped and you are worth the effort. I believe in you! And I hope you find a therapist who can help you make positive changes.
READ NEXT: What Kind of Therapist Is Right for Me?
Searching for a great therapist? Check out the Monarch directory from SimplePractice to find therapists near you with availability and online booking.