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How to Find a Therapist: Local (Calgary) Tips for Finding the Right "Fit"

Seeking therapy can be a courageous step towards better mental health, but finding the right therapist can feel like navigating a maze. With countless options and considerations to weigh, it's natural to feel overwhelmed, especially if you're already feeling overwhelmed by the day-to-day. From accessibility to clinical values, personality to approach, each factor plays a crucial role in determining the effectiveness of therapy for you. This article will provide some key questions to ask yourself to help you find a therapist who meets your individual needs.

1. What accessibility needs does this therapist need to meet for me?

One of the first hurdles to overcome in finding a therapist is accessibility, both financially and physically. Unfortunately, not every therapist office will meet all accessibility needs. If you have a disability, exist in a larger body, or have sensory needs, finding a therapist who is affirming and understands your needs will be an important first step. When searching for therapists be sure to look for terms such as:

  • Wheelchair Accessible

  • 'Health at Every Size'

  • Neurodiversity Affirming

In terms of financial accessibility, consider your budget and whether your insurance covers therapy. Many therapists offer sliding scale fees or accept insurance, so don't hesitate to inquire about payment options. Additionally, consider the location, office hours, and transit options of potential therapists to ensure they are convenient for you to access. Here are a few directories to search if you're looking for affordable therapy in Calgary or Canada.

  • The Affordable Therapy Network

  • Inkblot

  • Lumino Health (if covered by Sunlife)

  • Calgary Counselling Centre

2. What values do I need my therapist and I to be aligned with?

Every therapist operates from a unique set of clinical values and theoretical orientations. For example, some clinicians offer faith-based counselling, while others operate non-denominationally. Some therapists receive extensive training to support 2SLGBTQIA+ clients, while others may lack clinical knowledge. Many therapists operate their practice from a trauma-informed lens, while others may operate from alternative orientations. A good start is to make a list of values that are important to you. Here are some things to consider:

  • Faith, spirituality, and religion

  • Racial identity, country of origin, values surrounding diversity

  • 2SLGBTQIA+ values, orientation, lived experience

  • Neurodiversity affirming, lived experience

  • Trauma-informed practice

  • Health at every size

  • Political leanings, activism, and expression

It's completely normal to choose not to work with a therapist if their values, whether political, social, or otherwise, do not align with your own. These aspects are crucial components of our growth and healing journey, and finding a therapist who respects and understands your identity and experiences is essential for fostering a trusting therapeutic relationship. Here are some directories that you may find helpful when searching for therapists with specific values:

  • Skipping Stone Trans Affirming Network

  • Inclusive Therapists Network

  • Affordable Therapy Network

  • Neurodivergent Therapists Network

  • Everywhere is Queer

3. What sort of personality traits do I look for in a therapist?

The therapeutic relationship is built on trust and rapport, making the therapist's personality a crucial factor in your comfort and progress. The reality of things is that no matter how well-trained a therapist may be, they are not going to be a 'fit' for everyone. Therapists know this, and do not take offence. One tip for gauging personality is to take advantage of free consultations, which are there for this exact reason. Most therapists will offer some type of conversation prior to booking. Use this time to get a feel for whether this is someone that you could have a conversation with. Here are some things that may be important for you in a therapists personality:

  • Use of humour or shared sense of humour

  • Level of directness in conversation

  • Level of nurturance or warmness

  • Use of language (i.e. more medical vs more casual, swearing vs no swearing)

  • Tendency to challenge or not challenge

  • Tone of voice and cadence of speech

Consider whether you prefer a therapist who is warm and nurturing or one who is more direct and challenging. Trust your intuition during the initial consultation or first session – if you don't feel a connection with the therapist, it's okay to keep searching.

4. What are my goals for counselling and how does the therapist approach treatment?

Therapists employ various approaches and techniques to address mental health concerns. Some may utilize talk therapy, while others incorporate art therapy, mindfulness practices, or somatic experiencing. Think about what resonates with you and what you believe will be most effective in addressing your needs. Keep in mind that flexibility is key – a therapist who is willing to adapt their approach based on your feedback can enhance the therapeutic process. Start by identifying at least a broad idea of what you're looking to work on in therapy, here's some questions to consider:

  • What diagnoses contribute to my current experience? Do I require a specialist?

  • What symptoms would I like to work on?

  • What skills/strengths would I like to improve?

  • What things have been helpful/unhelpful in counselling in the past?

It is also important to consider therapist approach and offerings. While all registered therapists receive extensive training, it is important to note that all therapists operate from varying theoretical orientations. If you are open to various approaches, that's great! If you're looking for a specific approach, be sure to do this upfront. Psychology today is a great resource for searching by therapeutic modality.

5. What are my individual needs and preferences?

Lastly, recognize that your journey to finding the right therapist is unique to you. It is ok to consider personal preferences including cultural background, identity, and specific experiences when selecting a therapist. It's essential to find someone who respects and understands your individual experiences and can provide culturally competent care. Don't hesitate to communicate your needs and preferences openly with potential therapists to ensure a good fit. If a therapist responds negatively to your needs and preferences, this is likely a sign that they are not the right fit for you.

In Conclusion: Offer Self-Compassion

While the search for the right therapist may feel daunting at times, remember that it's worth the effort to find someone who can support you on your path to mental wellness. By considering factors such as accessibility, clinical values, personality, approach, and individual needs, you can empower yourself to make an informed decision that will positively impact your mental health.

Be patient with yourself throughout the process and trust that the right therapist is out there waiting to help you. While you search remember to be kind to yourself and offer yourself the grace and time you need.

If you are someone experiencing the impacts of past traumatic experiences,

or going through anxiety, stress, and burnout, we may be a good fit.

Scenic Route Psychology is a Calgary (NW) based counselling practice offering

in person sessions in Calgary and virtual sessions across Canada.


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