If a friend told you they started dating someone they didn’t really like, that would sound pretty odd. So why then do people take this very same approach when finding a therapist?
It makes a lot of sense that people stick with the first therapist they ever meet — the decision to go to therapy is a big step and can feel emotionally exhausting, especially if you are going through a tough time. To top it off, insurance often dictates who and how many sessions you can afford.
However, I think this mindset that you have to stick with the first therapist you ever meet is a common misconception.
If you went on a bad date with somebody you wouldn’t decide to up and marry that person would you? No, you would date around until you found somebody that is a better match for you.
And I think more people need to take this same approach when finding a therapist. It is okay to “date around” and wait to commit until you find a therapist that is a good fit for you.
There Should be Some Amount of Chemistry
Now, I am in no way implying you should have actual romantic chemistry with your therapist (that kind of defeats the purpose of going to therapy). But you should at least feel comfortable talking to your therapist.
Therapists come in all different shapes and sizes. And while I am using the umbrella term “therapists” in this article, therapists can have different levels of education. Typically, someone described as a therapist will have a master’s degree in counseling. While a psychologist has a doctorate and their education included more research. Both are good options but just something to consider.
You should also weigh how important it is to have a therapist with a specific gender, race, or sexual orientation. Some good places to start searching for a therapist include:
School counseling center: If you are a student/staff member, most colleges offer free counseling services.
American Psychological Association (APA): The APA website offers a great search tool that lets you filter results by insurance, practice area, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, language, and other criteria. Similar sites include MyWellbeing, which is kind of like Match.com but for finding therapists.
Resources for people of color: There are also resources to help find therapists that specifically work with communities of color, such as the Black Mental Health Alliance and the National Asian American Pacific Islander Mental Health Association.
They Should Ask About Your Goals
The first few sessions you have with a therapist are usually called the “intake” sessions. Think of this stage as the get-to-know-you questions of dating. Where are you from? What are your hobbies? Things like that.
During these first few sessions, a good therapist should also ask what are your short and long-term goals of therapy? Research shows that having set goals in therapy can increase its effectiveness and help better guide your discussions. Some common questions your therapist should ask:
What do you hope to get out of therapy?
What would it look like for you to be happy?
What is stopping you from achieving these goals?
And since these first couple of sessions can feel like the awkward stages of a new relationship, I often recommend taking the 3–date approach to finding a therapist. By your third session, you should have a pretty good sense if the therapist will be a good match for you.
Similar Communication Styles
Each therapist also has their own unique stylistic approach to counseling. Think of these as therapists’ “personalities.” Therapists are trained in a mix of counseling styles and typically have a preference for which styles they use. For example, some therapists may prefer giving their clients “homework” out of session. Others will offer clients advice. While others believe they should simply listen to clients without passing judgment or providing advice.
However, your therapist might mix and match techniques from a myriad of styles depending on their training. Some popular counseling styles include:
Humanistic/Client-Centered Therapy: Focussed on realizing human potential and self-discovery.
Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy: Uses a lot of activities to unpack maladaptive patterns of thought.
Mindfulness-based Therapy: Focused on identifying feelings within the moment. And not passing judgment on these thoughts.
Your Therapist Can Never Complete You
Don’t get me wrong — therapy is great. I have first-hand benefitted from therapy and think the world would be a much better place if everyone went to therapy.
However, going into therapy with the mindset that it will solve all your problems might be setting you up for disappointment. Your therapist can be a great tool to help achieve your goals but it will also take work on your end.
Therapy can sometimes take time before you feel it is helpful. Allow yourself to trust the process and not get too discouraged if you don’t see results right away. Use your therapist as a sounding board, but much like dating, another person can never “fix” you.
A few weeks ago my friend was going through a rough breakup and texted me to see if I knew any good therapists.
She said she had never gone to therapy and was kind of nervous about the thought. I gave her some suggestions but then half-jokingly told her that therapy is a lot like dating — it is okay to date around.
My goal wasn’t to suggest that she should actually date her therapist but to remind her that she is in control of her life. And you should never feel intimidated to talk to your therapist.
A therapist can be a great resource. But if you are not vibing with one “personality”, it is perfectly acceptable to find another therapist. I promise you the therapist won’t be offended; it happens all the time.
If you or someone you know is seeking immediate mental health services, please visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) website for additional resources.
Another day, another Zoom meeting!
A year plus into this personal pan pizza we are in, and my beauty routine basically consists of me rolling out of bed right before my first meeting and figuring if someone can’t find me attractive like this, then they don’t deserve me at my best.
However, every now and then, I have a call with my crush and I wonder if I should attempt to look somewhat cute?
And while after some FBI-level stalking, I found out my crush has a girlfriend (I sure know how to pick 'em!), I decided to channel my disappointment into researching ways to be more attractive on Zoom— in the hopes that your Zoom crush will end up more successful than mine.
1. Turn on your camera.
I know, I know — Wouldn’t it be nice if your crush could just fall in love with you solely based on the sound of your voice? I mean, it worked out great for Ariel in the Little Mermaid, right?
But alas, they may want to see your face before proposing marriage. So, if you are having a good hair day and won’t be the only one with your camera on, turn on that camera and show them what they are missing!
2. Perfect your background.
One of the best ways to start a conversation with someone you don’t really know is to create an easy talking point.
Having an interesting background is a great way to do this. This doesn’t have to be complicated either. Just do something that matches your personality. For example, you could add a funny virtual background, or my personal favorite, bring your pet to your meetings.
3. Mirror their language.
Mirroring someone else’s behavior has been associated with empathy and attraction according to research.
For instance, if you take a sip of water and then your crush takes a sip of water — this is mirroring. And people who are mirrored typically report these interactions as more positive and subsequently can increase attraction.
So, if you want to subtly let your crush know you like them, try mirroring their behavior.
4. Talk faster.
According to researchers in the Netherlands, talking faster can make you more attractive in virtual settings. The researchers found that “Higher speech rate signals responsiveness to one’s addressee in an interaction” can increase attraction.
The logic is that talking faster shows you are interested in the conversation and that you are friendly.
And while you don’t need to talk at a Gilmore Girl level speed of 200 words a minute, try speaking a little faster to show you are invested in the conversation.
5. Avoid eye contact.
When you make eye contact in person, this increases attraction. However, the opposite appears to be true in virtual settings. A study found that the longer participants averted their gaze, the more attracted they were rated — this appears especially true for women.
Although, if my ego is being honest, I mostly look at myself during Zoom calls.
However, I try to remind myself during meetings to center myself in front of my camera and look straight ahead to make myself appear more symmetrical, which evolutionary psychologists have repeatedly linked to attraction.
6. Say their name.
I’m not exactly sure why but there is something so attractive when a guy says my name in a conversation.
This probably goes back to my vanity but for whatever reason it makes me feel special. I feel like they are making a point to call me out and that they value me in some way.
So, if you are looking to stroke your crush’s ego, try casually saying their name in conversation and see how they react.
7. Use beauty filters.
If you’ve seen the viral video of a lawyer unable to turn off a cat filter, you probably know that you can download video filters for Zoom and Teams.
One popular app that you can use is Snap Camera, which not only has cat filters,
but beauty filters as well — just don’t forget to turn off the cat filter before an important meeting.
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