This post covers how to reach out to a therapist for the first time.
Someone recently asked me how I went about finding my therapist, so I figured I would write a blog post about it!
I currently have a therapist that I absolutely love. I’ve been seeing her for 2+ years now, and she has positively affected my life in many ways. I am very grateful for her, and I make sure she knows that on a regular basis haha.
I really do feel blessed to have the therapist that I now have, but it took me some time to find her. It’s not like she was the first therapist I ever tried or saw and it worked out perfectly from there.
So, I’m going to share my journey to finding the right therapist for me in this post. I will also share how I reached out to her, so you know how to reach out to a therapist for the first time.
How To Reach Out To A Therapist For The First Time
My First Therapist
I first decided to try therapy in college. I felt like I was struggling with a few things, and wanted an unbiased perspective on those things. With therapy, I really just wanted someone to talk to that could help me, but that also wouldn’t judge me or make me feel ashamed or embarrassed for feeling the way that I was.
When I was in college, therapy was becoming more normalized, but not like it is now (this was over 10 years ago). I ultimately figured that therapists are only here to help, and since I was in college where the therapy was offered for free, I figured I’d try it out.
I remember going into my therapist’s office building on campus and filling out a longgggg questionnaire about myself. From there, if I remember correctly, I was assigned a therapist. In other words, I didn’t get to choose who my therapist would be.
I remember attending therapy sessions with this therapist for about 6 months or so.
I was reading my journals from way back then, and I wrote a lot about the things that he helped me realize or have an open mind about.
Over time, though, I remember leaving the sessions feeling like I wasn’t taken very seriously.
Like he thought the topics of conversation that I was bringing to our sessions weren’t worth diving into and dissecting. Like he wasn’t really invested.
It didn’t feel so great… and I ultimately decided to stop seeing him because I didn’t feel that the sessions were helping me.
I didn’t try to find a therapist again after that for a few years.
My Second Therapist
When I lived on my own in Raleigh, NC after college, I again tried to find a therapist.
I went to PsychologyToday.com (read my post about why PsychologyToday.com is a great place to find a therapist and how to use it here) and chose a therapist from the list of therapists in my area.
I saw her many times. She was kind, trustworthy, and made me feel safe. But ultimately, I stopped seeing her because every time I went, I felt like she simply just agreed with everything I was saying.
You might think, well isn’t that a good thing? And yes… I’d say it made for very comfortable therapy sessions, but comfortable (and easy) doesn’t necessarily mean helpful.
I got to talk about all of my opinions and innermost thoughts and she validated everything I said, but she didn’t really help me work through those things.
I wasn’t really challenged, and the last few sessions I walked out feeling un-helped, if that makes sense. Like I just got to vent for an hour to a friend who never wanted to question me or prompt me to think differently about things.
And so, again, I decided that this therapist wasn’t a great fit for me.
Don’t get me wrong, this therapist helped me in a variety of ways (especially in our earlier sessions) but eventually I felt that our time together had run its course.
I sent her an email about taking a break from therapy and we parted ways. And me taking a break was true, but honestly, I feel like even if I wasn’t going to, “taking a break” is a good phrase to keep in your back pocket for when you don’t think a therapist is a good fit.
This way, you can avoid hurting their feelings (though I’m pretty sure they know that they won’t click with every client and vice versa!).
Third Time’s The Charm: My Third Therapist
A few years later, I wanted to try therapy again.
I think it took me a few years to try again because when you first start meeting with a therapist, at least in my case, you usually have to give them your back story and explain to them people and experiences in your life in your first therapy session so that they have some context.
This can be time consuming and tiring.
But, when I did feel like I wanted to go to therapy again, I visited PsychologyToday.com once more to look for a therapist. Again, you can read more about how to find a therapist on PsychologyToday.com here.
Ultimately, I found a really great therapist for me and for what I was going through at the time (and for all the things that I want to talk about to this day).
I trust her, and I feel that she genuinely wants what’s best for me. She gives me helpful feedback, takes notes, and pays attention. She lets me ramble, but she also ensures to speak up when I’m talking in circles.
My therapist asks me good questions that prompt me to be introspective. She doesn’t make me feel weird or embarrassed. If I don’t want to talk about a certain thing, she doesn’t force it or try to convince me to. She waits until I’m ready.
She jokes around from time to time too, making the heavy moments feel a little lighter.
We often set goals for me to accomplish before our next session, and 9 out of 10 times I leave our sessions feeling so much better than I did before I went in. Sometimes therapy is just hard, so I’ll say that 1 out of every 10 sessions is just blah, haha.
Because I trust her, I am very honest with her. It took many sessions and hours together before I truly and deeply opened up to her, but now, I feel like I can tell her pretty much anything. Even things I’ve never told a single other person.
And that’s exactly why I still see her! There may come a day where I decide that I want a new or different therapist with a specific approach or who uses different types of therapy, just like there may be a day when she decides she no longer wants to work with me. But for now, it works!
How To Reach Out To A Therapist For The First Time
The way I found my current therapist was, again, through PscyhologyToday.com. I dive much deeper into how to use Psychology Today to find a therapist in this post, but simply put, I first started by looking for therapists that lived near me.
At the time, I lived in Raleigh, North Carolina, so that’s the location that I filtered the therapists for. Once I zoned in on my location, I looked at the therapists themselves. It may sound silly, but I was naturally drawn to therapists who had a friendly, warm, and inviting picture. Someone who looked trustworthy.
As I went through those therapists, I then looked at what they specialized in (for example, depression, panic attacks, issues with close relationships, anxiety, etc.).
I wanted to make sure I found a prospective therapist that had experience in the things that I wanted to talk about. Otherwise, I couldn’t be sure that they’d be able to help me!
Once I found a potential therapist that was near me, looked trustworthy, and specialized in what I needed help with, I reached out to them via email. You can do this directly through PsychologyToday.com.
This is exactly what my first email looked like:
Hi [therapist name], My name’s [your name] and I’m looking for a therapist. [Insert here what you might need help with. This can be detailed or not.] I live in [location]. [Include here any other background information you think the therapist might find helpful]. Let me know what you think – and also, if you offer any free consultations (to see if we mesh). Looking forward to hearing from you! Thanks, [your name]
I say my “first” or initial email because when this particular therapist got back to me, I decided I wasn’t ready for therapy. I was too intimidated.
At this point, I simply told the therapist that I wasn’t really ready for therapy at that time, but I may reach out later.
About a year or so later, I decided I’d like to look into therapy again. So, I went through the same process, and found a therapist that was near me, looked trustworthy, and specialized in what I needed.
So, I reached out via email again through PsychologyToday.com.
Here’s exactly what my second outreach email looked like:
Hi [therapist name], My name is [your name]. I’m a [age] year old in [location] who works full time as a [occupation]. [Insert here what you’d like help with. Example: navigating anxiety, assistance with personal relationships, feeling down, etc.] I would love to chat with you and learn more about what you do to see if you and I would be a good fit. Thanks so much, [your name]
And wouldn’t you know it… when this therapist got back to me she said, “you actually reached out to me about a year ago!”.
I had reached out to the same therapist both times. Can you believe that? I had no idea that she was the therapist that I had reached out to a year ago… and I took it as a sign that this therapist might just be the right one for me.
In both cases, these emails were effective. After the second time, when I really felt ready to go to therapy, we had a 15 minute free phone consultation where I was asked what I would like to talk about specifically in therapy. During that phone call, my therapist explained that she had experience with those things and could help me.
If she didn’t think she could help me, she would’ve told me that, and likely pointed me in the direction of a therapist who could.
After that first phone call, she emailed me some paperwork requesting important information (things like getting my health insurance information (insurance company + insurance plan) and payment information), and we scheduled our first appointment together via telehealth (the app we use to meet via video call).
I’ve been seeing her ever since! Sometimes I take breaks (like if I feel like I’m in a really good place with not much to talk about, or honestly, if money is a little tight) but I try to go at least once a month.
When I first started seeing her, I was going once a week. The cadence is totally up to you, but depending on what you need help with, your therapist may recommend that you go to therapy more often. At the end of the day, it’s all up to you though.
What’s also nice about my therapist is that because she offers telehealth, we were still able to meet even when I moved from North Carolina to Florida.
Final Thoughts About Therapy
All in all, finding the right therapist for you may take some trial and error, but it doesn’t have to be complicated. It can be as simple as finding someone that you think may be a good fit, and sending them an email.
Then, just take a series of small steps and go at your own pace. You don’t need to rush in and tell your whole life story during your initial consultation or first visit. You can if you want! But it’s okay to take your time in your first session and beyond that, too.
I found the best therapist for me at this time in my life, but I’m sure I will have another therapist (or five!) over the course of the rest of my life.
It’s my opinion that every one could benefit from having a therapist, especially if you often find yourself battling your brain. I’m not a therapist (that’s probably obvious at this point) but because I’ve been in deep pain and gone to therapy to overcome it, I know just how powerful and helpful talking to a therapist can be.
Therapy is not a cure-all. It often requires hard work in your sessions and when you’re living your day to day life. But I do believe that therapy is a good idea, an act of self-love, and an incredibly powerful way to accept help from someone who has been trained to help you.
This post covered how to reach out to a therapist for the first time.
Other posts you might like: