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The art (and luck!) of finding a helpful therapist

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 WhatsRight (original poster member #35417) posted at 3:00 PM on Wednesday, June 22nd, 2022

A response in another thread has gotten me thinking about this issue.

There are two major things (and many smaller ones) that are shared on this site that I am madly envious of. One is when a spouse is truly remorseful, and works independently and cooperatively to resolve issues surrounding their transgressions.

The other is when people talk about how wonderful their therapist is…how they are so helpful, etc

I would love to pick the minds of all of you who have been able to find some answers and/or comfort in IC or MC.

First of all, I guess I wonder if it is skill or just sometimes luck that people are able to find a good match in a therapist when they are in such a state of upheaval about what is happening in their lives. That seems savant or something, to me.

Also, I am wondering about the "connection" aspect of choosing a therapist. I always feel more comfortable with, and more receptive to input from a person with whom I "connect". Is that the way it usually works? Or is it more so just the knowledge/wisdom they impart?

Edited to add: Back when I had the resources for therapy, I was never able to find a fit. And my H and I saw a couple of “famous”, well respected therapists.

[This message edited by WhatsRight at 3:02 PM, Wednesday, June 22nd]

"Noone can make you feel inferior without your concent." Eleanor Roosevelt

I will not be vanquished. Rose Kennedy

posts: 7567   ·   registered: Apr. 23rd, 2012   ·   location: Southeast USA
id 8741371
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sisoon ( Moderator #31240) posted at 4:07 PM on Wednesday, June 22nd, 2022

I think a good therapist can build a connection with a prospective client pretty quickly.

My approach was to start with people who were active in the Transactional Analysis community, because Eric Berne's theories made a lot of sense to me. Almost every TA therapist I've met has been good. That community is a lot smaller than it was, and I couldn't find a TA therapist here after d-day. Luckily, my W's therapist saw us on d-day, and she proved to be terrific.

I don't see ads on SI, but there used to be a 'Find a Therapist' ad. I'd start there. I think I'd look at some statements from the therapists, let them know what help I wanted, and ask if they or someone they knew could help me.

I know you're under tremendous stress. I urge you not to take this task on as an extra burden. Do your best to look for an IC as a way of making your life easier and better. If it feels like an extra burden, maybe it would be good to wait.

fBH (me) - on d-day: 66, Married 43, together 45, same sex ap
DDay - 12/22/2010
Recover'd and R'ed
You don't have to like your boundaries. You just have to set and enforce them.

posts: 27435   ·   registered: Feb. 18th, 2011   ·   location: Illinois
id 8741380
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LostOpportunities20 ( member #74401) posted at 4:16 PM on Wednesday, June 22nd, 2022

Personally I have never found a therapist that works for me (note that I did not say good or bad therapist). That includes both IC and MC.

I don't know how people find good ones for their particular situations other than trial and error (even with referrals since each therapist/patient partnership is somewhat unique).

At 150 to 200 a pop, I can't afford to keep up the trial and error since insurance only covers a few sessions per year.

I have also come to the conclusion that I am a difficult patient. During my sessions with multiple ICs, NOTHING pisses me off more than "And how do YOU feel about THAT?"

WTF!?!

I can ask myself that in the mirror. I tend to start my sessions with - "I'm not interested in an echo chamber. I'll tell you my story and I am paying YOU to poke holes in it so I can pull my head out of my ass."

Having said all of that, I am more than open to any advice on how to find a good therapist without burning a lot of money.

BH (late 40s)
WW (late 40s) EA 2008, EA/probably PA 2009

Confessed the first, I caught her the second.

Filing for D

posts: 181   ·   registered: May. 7th, 2020
id 8741381
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tushnurse ( member #21101) posted at 4:59 PM on Wednesday, June 22nd, 2022

The best resource for finding a therapist is going to PsychologyToday You can then search by zip code, and they have full profiles of the therapists. This is what I recommend in my line of work.

I had a major family issue a few years ago, and was really struggling due to some gaslighting and other abuse from my parents, and was truly questioning my sanity, and stance on an issue.
So I took my own advice, and wittled the list down, I work closely with SW's all day, and some are fabulous, a lot are not great, and those that start their own therapy business do it because they have false aspirations on what it is going to be.
That said, I was looking for a therapist that was not just a SW, I wanted someone who had worked in the MH industry, or with abuse, or trauma. I wanted someone who wasn't a kid, a lot of the kids that start out as SW's don't stay long because they realize it is expensive to get all the degrees you need to be successful and you still don't get paid enough to live on.
So I went in search of these things, and found an old Behavioral health nurse that got her therapy certification. She was perfect. I met with her for a 90 min appt 1 time. She was perfect for my situation, and at the end of the meeting she didn't force more therapy on me, and she noted that I was more than welcome to follow up with her at any time in the future.

When my son was having issues I messaged her and she was more than willing to take him on, and he did not follow through. But she got it.

There are some excellent therapists, but there are a lot that are garbage. If they want you to sign up for 3 months of therapy at the get go that should be a red flag. If they only give you positive feedback you in an echo chamber and that will be of zero help in the long term.

Me: FBS
Him: FWS
Kids: 22 & 25
Married for 30 years now, was 16 at the time.
D-Day Sept 26 2008
R'd in about 2 years. Old Vet now.

posts: 19439   ·   registered: Oct. 1st, 2008   ·   location: St. Louis
id 8741386
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ChamomileTea ( Guide #53574) posted at 5:37 PM on Wednesday, June 22nd, 2022

I think part of it is managing your expectations. If you feel like a therapist is going to cure what ails you in a half dozen sessions, you're going to end up disappointed. If you're paying a mint for it like LostOpportunities mentioned, it's probably going to be disappointing too. For me, it was a cumulative process. We did EMDR at a certain point and that helped with the triggers, but a good portion was me just getting the poison out and having someone to direct me back toward ME when I'd become too bogged down in what WH was doing. I went for something like a year and a half, first weekly and then twice a month.

I chose my therapist based on her online reviews and to some degree on her age. I didn't want some kid right out of school who couldn't identify with what I was going through. Books can only get you so far. Her style was pretty laid back and easy to talk to, so it was more like chatting up a friend and then giving real credence and thought to her suggestions. But again, that's on us. Are we listening? Some of it can sound too small, like "keep a journal and follow up each entry with a positive". Some can sound wrong, like "pop your wrist with a rubber band when you're ruminating". It's up to us to lend weight to our therapist's guidance. Sometimes I wouldn't and then years later, guess what?.. she was right and I was wrong. There's no magic wand though. We have to muddle through and all they can do is walk next to us for a bit, and just like every other aspect of this horrible business, it takes TIME.

BW: 2004(online EAs), 2014 (multiple PAs)Married 38 years; in R with fWH for 7

No one can make you into a liar but you.

posts: 5767   ·   registered: Jun. 8th, 2016   ·   location: U.S.
id 8741388
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Cooley2here ( member #62939) posted at 6:16 PM on Wednesday, June 22nd, 2022

A therapist I know says to be very careful. Her expertise is Family Systems and EMDR. She is pretty specialized and works closely with others in her practice for the best outcomes for her clients.

If you come with a boatload of issues from childhood you might need someone like her. If you are needing a life coach, foe example how to develop a stiffer spine, she might be more than you need. These folks can get expensive so shop around. You have to give up your ego in therapy so you don’t want a POS for a therapist.

When things go wrong, don’t go with them. Elvis

posts: 3396   ·   registered: Mar. 5th, 2018   ·   location: US
id 8741392
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 WhatsRight (original poster member #35417) posted at 6:44 PM on Wednesday, June 22nd, 2022

Wouldn’t it be great if they offered a free consultation like lawyers do?

Because I feel like if I could just spend a little bit of time… Maybe 20 minutes or so, I could get a feel for their personality and their knowledge and perspective.

My husband and I saw probably five therapist. Two were world-famous. One was in person and one was over the phone. The others were just never any help.

We have been told…

- I was too focused on the details. I didn’t need them

- I needed to give him a break .

- H was temporarily insane

- I needed to get over it.

Stuff like that. Even my husband thought that they were all taking his side and not giving me a break.

One guy used very academic language, and my husband was just on mental overload. He’s a country boy and although he’s very intelligent, he’s not real big on long words and convoluted sentence structure.

One of the therapist we went to see asked how we chose him. He seemed to be a good guy, competent but sort of personable. So I told him the truth… When I was looking for therapist online, I chose him because I just liked his face. I thought he looked like he was a caring person who liked people. He got a look of shock and fear on his face. My husband was sitting right there, so I can’t imagine he thought I was hitting on him, but he withdrew immediately and continued for the three sessions that we went to see him.

We went to see one guy who used imago therapy. He spent two whole sessions trying to argue with me about the fact that my family of origin is all screwed up and I was searching for in what I lacked in my FOO, in my marriage partner. I tried to tell him that I had a blessed upbringing and that we were all a little wacky, but that no traumas or negative incidences happened to me. If anything, I was searching for a husband who had some of the really good qualities that I saw my father. He wasn’t buying it.

Oh well.

Tush…I’ll definitely try psychology today. I won’t be able to go just yet because I don’t have the resources at this time. And I don’t live in a huge town so maybe that’s one reason the choices are limited.

Isn’t it crazy to be in bad shape because of something horrible happening in your life that you need to adjust to and / or recover from, and in order to get help, you have to face having good judgment about who might can help you.

It’s all so tiring! Right?

"Noone can make you feel inferior without your concent." Eleanor Roosevelt

I will not be vanquished. Rose Kennedy

posts: 7567   ·   registered: Apr. 23rd, 2012   ·   location: Southeast USA
id 8741396
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Oldwounds ( member #54486) posted at 6:48 PM on Wednesday, June 22nd, 2022

I guess a little art and a lot of luck for me.

I did a search within a certain range of our house, I didn’t want long road trips to a potentially bad MC/IC and then I read online reviews. Checked their individual websites if they had them and then ranked the top 3 and called the ‘top’ rated on my list. She never called back and I left two messages. I went to the second name on my list and he called me back about 15 minutes later and answered a bunch of my questions before our first appointment.

Several months in, he told us he was a BS, who had a WS not interested in R, so he was a single dad and had been in the counseling biz for decades and worked at various clinics and groups before starting his own office.

Anyway, we were supremely fortunate because he helped us with individual IC and MC. He helped my wife understand a lot about herself and held her accountable for her choices, without piling on.

And for me, like SI, he showed me I didn’t drive my wife to her choices, which isn’t an easy sell early on for a newly betrayed spouse.

I found a counselor who didn’t sell us an outcome, he just tried to help us get back on our feet and gave us some communication tools we still use six years later.

I ran into him a couple years ago, bought him a beer and thanked him for his work.

So yeah, connection, experience and his approach were all helpful.

I think luck may have been the biggest factor in the find, especially since the ‘top’ of my list never called back!

Married 34+ years, together 40+ years
Two awesome adult sons.
Dday 6/16 4-year LTA Survived
Restoration takes time.
"Circumstances don't make the man, they only reveal him to himself." ― Epictetus

posts: 4371   ·   registered: Aug. 4th, 2016   ·   location: PNW. The adventure continues.
id 8741397
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 WhatsRight (original poster member #35417) posted at 7:10 PM on Wednesday, June 22nd, 2022

"I'm not interested in an echo chamber. I'll tell you my story and I am paying YOU to poke holes in it so I can pull my head out of my ass".

laugh laugh laugh

I love this. I can totally say with conviction but I have never never never met a therapist that I thought I could be so frank with.

Did that work for you?

"Noone can make you feel inferior without your concent." Eleanor Roosevelt

I will not be vanquished. Rose Kennedy

posts: 7567   ·   registered: Apr. 23rd, 2012   ·   location: Southeast USA
id 8741401
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OwningItNow ( member #52288) posted at 7:11 PM on Wednesday, June 22nd, 2022

I posted in your Off Topic thread, but would you be going to IC? Or would you want another MC?

I know it's not fair to put all of this work into feeling good. It feels like we shouldn't have to, but if you can see it as an investment of resources into yourself (self care!) it makes it seem like a loving gesture, not a punishment.

I would recommend IC over MC almost every single time. I don't have a lot of good things to say about MC because they rarely take a side. It is definitely a "both sides deserve respect" situation which was not helpful for us. The client is the marriage. MCs don't see the individuals, they see the marriage. When one is giving 20% and the other is giving 80%, this will piss you off big time! It is NOT helpful that the partner giving 20% deserves "an equal voice." Ugh. I did not feel seen or supported at all.

No, IC is what is good for the soul. They see you, they hear you, they support and guide you. If you are going to find the money, WhatsRight (I hope you do), then do IC. It's an investment in your beautiful soul. Skip the M for now.

[This message edited by OwningItNow at 7:15 PM, Wednesday, June 22nd]

me: BS/WSh: WS/BS

Reject the rejector. Do not reject yourself.

posts: 5606   ·   registered: Mar. 16th, 2016   ·   location: Midwest
id 8741402
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Kanashii ( new member #80132) posted at 7:15 PM on Wednesday, June 22nd, 2022

Like Tush said -I went on Psychology today. Was able to start seeing someone for IC quickly who takes my insurance and seems to not get overwhelmed with everything I'm throwing at her. My expectations aren't that things will get fixed but that I'll have someone on the outside able to smack sense into me whenever I unknowingly try to mentally rugsweep all the nonsense my WH is still doing. We're still in the beginning phase of unpacking everything going on (family emergencies, false R with WH, becoming a single parent, etc) but the reality checks so far have been great. Painful but much needed.

Me - BW Mid 30's
Him - WH Mid 30's

D-day1: Christmas Night 2021
D-day2:6/5/22
Separated.

posts: 35   ·   registered: Mar. 23rd, 2022   ·   location: United States
id 8741403
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tushnurse ( member #21101) posted at 7:36 PM on Wednesday, June 22nd, 2022

WR - don't fret of living in a small town. With today's technology especially since Covid it has allowed many therapists available to provide on line therapy. It may be a little uncomfortable at first but is an excellent option as long as they meet the state requirements and licensures (which many states don't require therapists to be licensed) and accept your insurance you can do therapy with them.

Also cross reference anyone you look interested in with online reviews.

Me: FBS
Him: FWS
Kids: 22 & 25
Married for 30 years now, was 16 at the time.
D-Day Sept 26 2008
R'd in about 2 years. Old Vet now.

posts: 19439   ·   registered: Oct. 1st, 2008   ·   location: St. Louis
id 8741404
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 WhatsRight (original poster member #35417) posted at 8:10 PM on Wednesday, June 22nd, 2022

Back to my original question, is a good fit more dependent on a rapport, or their knowledge / skills? I’m thinking maybe it doesn’t really matter so much, but it has always been so important to me that I feel some sort of connection to, or rapport with who I am having conversations with about personal issues.

Oh, and when I am able to go to counseling, it will definitely be IC

It’s not such a bad deal that I’m not really able to go right now, because nothing is changing here. End it will give me some time to search and find somebody that I think would really work out well for me. My husband is very pleasant and becoming somewhat appreciative of the things that I do for him. But I’m not sure he is capable of comprehending the damage he’s done, or of the work it would take to heal it. He continues to say he doesn’t know what to do. Whatever. He truly is emotionally retarded - in the true sense of the word - slow.

I mostly just want to be more at peace with myself. To hear someone say what no therapist has ever said…that even though I need some help with processing everything even at this point, I’m at least not crazy for being torn up about what all has happened.

That would be nice! 😊

Thanks all.

"Noone can make you feel inferior without your concent." Eleanor Roosevelt

I will not be vanquished. Rose Kennedy

posts: 7567   ·   registered: Apr. 23rd, 2012   ·   location: Southeast USA
id 8741407
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sundance ( member #72129) posted at 8:15 PM on Wednesday, June 22nd, 2022

i wanted to find a therapist that would be covered by my insurance plan, so i started by calling approximately 15 different therapists that were in-network (and taking new patients).

not a single office picked-up the line-- so i ended up leaving 15 sobbing messages on 15 stranger's voicemails.

1 person called me back the next morning. 1 out of 15. granted, i prob sounded like a total nutcase and likely nobody wanted my case.

but the 1 therapist that called me back saved my life (literally) and my M (literally).

maybe this was luck, but i like to think that he heard my voice and knew that he was meant to help me and my marriage.

Rusty: You scared?Linus: You suicidal?Rusty: Only in the morning.

posts: 142   ·   registered: Nov. 21st, 2019
id 8741408
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BearlyBreathing ( member #55075) posted at 8:57 PM on Wednesday, June 22nd, 2022

I had certain things I thought I’d be more comfortable with- over 40, male, divorced, and with trauma experience. And for some reason I had a preference to a PsD over an MFT or a SW— that was just an unfounded bias, but it felt important to me. I found one who met those and his PsD research and paper was on working with military vets w PTSD. And then we DID click. He met me where I was at and he worked with my gallows humor. It took a little time, but I worked hard to be 100% honest with him- I let the ugly thoughts and all that out. It was important to be able to get to that place— that is when the change really started.

I did get a few short 15-20 minute interviews with a couple therapists while I was searching — some do offer that (or at least used to).

My current therapist is not a certified counselor or therapist. But she specializes in transformational counseling and somatic therapy and is open to some less mainstream approaches and is perfect for where I am now. The point is that over time your needs may change and you may want to change therapists then.

Good luck!

Me: BS 55 (49 on d-day)Him: WH. 64. D-Day 8/15/2016 LTA. Kinda liking my new life :-)

**horrible typist, lots of edits to correct. :-/ **

posts: 4893   ·   registered: Sep. 10th, 2016   ·   location: Northern CA
id 8741416
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 WhatsRight (original poster member #35417) posted at 9:46 PM on Wednesday, June 22nd, 2022

Wow.

So nice to hear that so many of you found what you needed.

It’s not hard for me to be honest, because I bear my soul very easily. My trouble now is that I really don’t trust anyone.

I’m sure with the right therapist I could get over that. Maybe.

"Noone can make you feel inferior without your concent." Eleanor Roosevelt

I will not be vanquished. Rose Kennedy

posts: 7567   ·   registered: Apr. 23rd, 2012   ·   location: Southeast USA
id 8741421
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LostOpportunities20 ( member #74401) posted at 10:54 PM on Wednesday, June 22nd, 2022

Did that work for you?

Maybe...sort of.

One therapist who is very old school laughed and said "You don't need therapy - you'll get over it when you get over it and you should trust yourself to make the right choices for yourself."

The rest...they didn't know how to respond.

Looking back, however, I'm certain that, despite my bravado, I needed more of what therapists typically offer in order to clear my head and work through issues that I might not acknowledge were there.

BH (late 40s)
WW (late 40s) EA 2008, EA/probably PA 2009

Confessed the first, I caught her the second.

Filing for D

posts: 181   ·   registered: May. 7th, 2020
id 8741434
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This0is0Fine ( member #72277) posted at 11:10 PM on Wednesday, June 22nd, 2022

Back before my therapist got fired, he was a good fit.

Almost pure luck. Basically only local guy available. Specialized in non-monogamy.

Turns out specializing in non-monogamy made him extremely familiar with how monogamy is supposed to work and how to put that into very distinct terms.

Like here is the checklist of things that might make monogamy a bad fit. But if it's a good fit, then these are the necessary components, boundaries, and agreements that also need to happen.

Love is not a measure of capacity for pain you are willing to endure for your partner.

posts: 2041   ·   registered: Dec. 11th, 2019
id 8741435
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 WhatsRight (original poster member #35417) posted at 2:01 AM on Thursday, June 23rd, 2022

That guy should hang out a shingle for premarital counseling… The one who specializes in 😏 non-monogamy. Maybe it would weed out some of the "future cheaters".".

"Noone can make you feel inferior without your concent." Eleanor Roosevelt

I will not be vanquished. Rose Kennedy

posts: 7567   ·   registered: Apr. 23rd, 2012   ·   location: Southeast USA
id 8741477
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ChamomileTea ( Guide #53574) posted at 2:46 AM on Thursday, June 23rd, 2022

Back to my original question, is a good fit more dependent on a rapport, or their knowledge / skills? I’m thinking maybe it doesn’t really matter so much, but it has always been so important to me that I feel some sort of connection to, or rapport with who I am having conversations with about personal issues.

Building a rapport can take you a long way, but eventually that person needs to have some skill too. They need to be able to recognize when you need a nudge and, for our purposes, they should understand trauma and the latest therapies to treat it. A big part of my issue was anxiety and anxiety isn't just about worrying. If you read a copy of The Body Keeps Score by Bessel van der Kolk, you'll see how the physiological reaction to trauma works and how the amygdala of our brains can become hypersensitive. Understanding my body's reaction really did help me a lot. I found it easier to be patient with the process.

I do think it's okay to change therapists if you feel like you're not a good fit. They're supposed to be professionals, right? So if they're upset by you moving on to someone else, it's a good indicator you made the right choice. Not everyone with a degree is great at their job. I can't count how many times I've run across a story where the AP was some kind of psychologist or therapist. shocked

[This message edited by ChamomileTea at 2:48 AM, Thursday, June 23rd]

BW: 2004(online EAs), 2014 (multiple PAs)Married 38 years; in R with fWH for 7

No one can make you into a liar but you.

posts: 5767   ·   registered: Jun. 8th, 2016   ·   location: U.S.
id 8741492
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