Most reputable therapists will offer you a free consult, to help both the therapist and client decide if they’re a good fit.
First, what a free consult is NOT. It is not a therapy session. This is not the time to open up deep wounds and begin exploring highly emotional life experiences.
So, what happens at a free consult? This is your chance to ask a potential therapist any possible question you have ever had about therapy and about the therapist, and for the therapist to ask you some key questions, as well as letting you know how their practice works, e.g., how frequently you will meet, what they charge, if they take insurance, etc.
You might want to ask a therapist about their qualifications or areas of expertise. You might want to evaluate their religious background, their education or political views, their level of multicultural awareness and if you, as a person of color or non-cis-gender or non-monogamy will feel free to discuss your issues with the therapist. You might want to know if they’ve experienced trauma, have raised children, or how knowledgeable they are about fitness, to get an idea if you’ll be on the same page.
Other possible questions might be about their therapeutic approach and their style. No questions are off-limits as you try to find someone to share your most personal and most painful stories. Of course, the therapist may not answer all of your questions, if they find them too personal, but that will give you useful information as well.
If you don’t feel the therapist is a good fit, tell them. They will want to help you find someone that is right for you. This is true during the course of therapy, as well. You may be working with someone for a while, and decide that you want to do a different type of therapy and need to find someone with that specialty.
Online directories can be a useful way to find a therapist as you can narrow your search by criteria of your choice, and most therapist profiles will include a link to their website, where you can get more information. Some directories to try include: PsychologyToday.com, GoodTherapy.org, OnlineCounselling.com, NeedingTherapy.com, and TherapyDen.com.
Choosing a therapist is an important decision. The more comfortable you feel, the quicker you will be able to build a partnership with your therapist and do the work you really want to do.