It is common for people in need of a professional service to ask friends, family, or check the Yellow Pages. Now with Google you can find lots of information in just a few milliseconds. This is probably good if you are looking to hire a plumber or an auto mechanic, but how about if you need a referral to a psychotherapist?

Family or friend?

Most people find it uncomfortable to ask family members if they know of a “good therapist”. Family members may want information you are not comfortable discussing. In addition, you may not be comfortable seeing a therapist that a friend has seen or plays golf with once a week.

cartoon cat at therapist

So how do you find a therapist?

My suggestion is to ask people that know the inside scoop on the medical personnel in your community. Ask nurses, medical receptionists, and medical support staff.

I suggest you start by developing a question that helps the person think of a therapist that fits your needs. “Do you know a good therapist?” is not as helpful as, “If your 10 year old son was having anger problems in school, which therapist would you go see?”

“If you were having problems with your spouse, which therapist would you go see?”

“If you were feeling depressed, which therapist would you go see?”

When I needed a pediatrician

Soon after our first son was born, my wife and I moved to a new city. We knew no one, but we needed a pediatrician for our 3 month old. I went to both of the local hospitals and bought myself lunch. I politely made eye contact with people wearing scrubs. With a smile I asked, “If you had a 3 month old baby, who would you take him to for his well baby check?”

In the lunch rooms of both hospitals I got the same name over and over. Many nurses told me personal stories about their pregnancy and how this doctor took such good care of them and their baby. One nurse said, “I shouldn’t say this because I work for a pediatrician, but I would go to…”

That’s how I found my children’s doctor.

After you get a few names

After you get a few names, check out the therapist’s web site. Ask around. Do your homework. Make sure that the therapist’s practice will meet your needs. If the therapist you are interested in only works mornings, and you have to work mornings, you will need to keep looking. Referrals count, but it is important that you and your therapist are the right fit.

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