If you are looking to start therapy in NYC, one of the biggest hurdles to get over is sorting through the hundreds (if not thousands) of options that exist in Manhattan (not mention Queens, Brooklyn, and Staten Island).
And full disclosure – I know how hard it can be to find a therapist. I tried going to 3 other providers before I found the right fit. Fourth times a charm!
At the end of the day, finding someone you can trust is the most important factor. Research shows that patients who have good relationships with their therapist tend to have better outcomes in therapy.
So what makes a good relationship with a therapist? The research indicates that a good therapist will:
- collaborate with you
- be attuned to your needs
- receive feedback and actually use it
- resolve and repair any conflicts that arise
- encourage open discussions on termination
So once you know what makes a good therapeutic relationship, how do you find the best therapist for you?
There really are only 2 strategies to keep in mind when looking for a therapist in NYC.
The first option is less time consuming, and usually preferable.
Word of Mouth
It’s true – the best way to find a therapist is by asking trusted friends and loved ones for a recommendation. If they have had success working with a therapist, they can get you a referral from their practitioner.
Or, they might have a friend who has had luck working with a therapist, who can be recommended to you.
You can also ask any trusted health professional – your PCP, your dermatologist, your physical therapist, etc.
And if you’re looking for a therapist of a certain race, gender or cultural background, or someone who specializes in a specific niche, asking around will help. Because it is likely that someone you know, knows someone that might know someone who can give you a recommendation.
Of course, sometimes we don’t want to share with anyone that we are looking for a therapist. If that’s the case for you, that’s perfectly okay. You don’t have to tell anyone. You can still find a therapist by searching online.
Which brings me to:
Your Own Research
Of course, googling a therapist is always an option. But you might get tripped up during the search process because there are SO MANY OUT THERE. Decision fatigue might set in before you even make the first call, which could leave you back at square one (And, if decision fatigue is a theme in your life, check out my post on how to stop procrastinating RIGHT NOW).
Which is why I think that therapist platforms are a great starting point. But of course, there are a ton of mental health platforms popping up these days, which can make the search for a therapist feel even more overwhelming.
So I am going to keep this simple. These are my 3 favorites:
If you don’t have health insurance, or low-cost therapy is a priority for you, check out these 10 resources to help you get affordable therapy for additional options.
And, here are the steps to take once you’ve decided on the platform you want to use:
1. Narrow down your search:
- Choose 1 platform to start, so you don’t get overwhelmed.
- Search by the type of therapy you want. Whether it’s individual therapy, couples counseling, family therapy, or even group therapy.
- Find someone who specializes in what you need. You can search more generally, like “anxiety,” or “depression,” or “self-esteem.” Or for more niche concerns, such as “body image issues,” or “career help.”
- Optional: you can also search by modality. If you’ve never been to therapy, it can be tough to know what kind of modality you want a therapist to use (I tend to combine CBT, which is a more modern, skills-based approach, with psychodynamic, a more exploratory approach). And even if you don’t know what modality you want, that’s okay! A therapist’s profile should give you a general idea of their style.
2. Contact 3-5 therapists that you think might be a good fit for you.
I say 3-5 because oftentimes, therapists in NYC will be completely booked. If you email 5 or so, you should get at least 1 response. And if you don’t get any responses, don’t give up! Simply use a different platform, and try again.
3. Optional: Schedule an intro call, and plan out a few questions to ask in advance.
Some people feel better having a quick intro call. Others are ready to jump right in. Do what’s best for you.
If you do want to have an intro call, think about what you want to ask in advance.
You can come with a list of questions. Or, you can keep it simple by asking something like “tell me about you and your practice.”
4. Attend your initial appointment.
This is it – all the hard work and research is finally paying off!
In the first session, you might think it’s a good match right away, know it’s not a match, or you won’t be sure either way.
Sometimes it can take a little while to get used to talking to a stranger about the most intimate details of your life. You can always give it 2-3 sessions to see how you feel.
5. Go with your gut.
This is the case whether you find a therapist through a search platform or word of mouth.
Pay attention to how you feel during the session and after. Do you feel a little bit lighter? Or more constriction in your body?
You can always share any hesitations or doubts you have with your therapist. They can either help you navigate those feelings, or try to refer you to someone who may be closer to what you’re looking for.
Some final notes:
If you want to find the best therapist fit for you, it would make sense to find one with excellent reviews. But in reality, finding therapist reviews online can be difficult.
This is because many people who are in therapy don’t necessarily want to blast it all over the internet. So don’t let any online reviews (or lack-thereof) deter you.
Going to therapy is not the same as dining in a restaurant. It is highly individualized. What might work for someone may not work for another person.
This is an opportunity for you to tap into your own needs, and feel empowered by doing something for your own mental health and wellness.
So even if it takes a little bit of time, or a little bit of research, or a little bit of putting yourself out there, when you find “the one,” it can truly change your life.
I hope you feel a little less overwhelmed by the process of searching for a therapist. Also, if you feel comfortable sharing, I’d love to hear how you found yours. Let me know below!