You’ve probably already crossed a few names off your list, so you’re getting closer and closer to your best option.
You’ve gotten all the information you can from friends and family, provider directories, and the Internet. In this last step, you’ll actually be talking with your potential therapists to get the information you need to make your decision.
Making the Calls
Unless a therapist specifically requests to be contacted by email, it’s best to give them a call. You get a better sense of context and personality from hearing a live voice.
Calling also gives you the opportunity to ask followup questions right away instead of having to wait for the therapist to return an email.
Gather your Contact List, question cards, and a notepad or piece of paper for taking notes on your conversations.
If you’re nervous about making these phone calls, you might find it useful to create a script for yourself. If you get anxious, you can just refer to your script to get back on track.
Here’s an example:
OPENING: “Hi. I was wondering if I could ask you a few
questions about how you work?”
ANY FOLLOWUP QUESTIONS
CLOSING: “Thanks, I really appreciate your time. I’ve got a few things to consider, but if it looks like this is a good fit for me, I’ll give you a call back to set up an appointment.”
Obviously, therapists will not answer the phone if they’re working with another client, so be prepared to leave a message stating your name and phone number with a request for the therapist to call you back. If you’re not comfortable leaving this kind of information on a machine, just hang up and try to call back when you can talk to the therapist directly. If you get voicemail or an answering service, make a note of this fact in your notepad to avoid confusion later.
If you’re calling an agency or clinic, a receptionist might answer the phone. Simply explain that you’d like to speak with a particular therapist to ask a few questions and then continue as planned.
When you get to speak to a potential therapist, make sure you cover all of your Top Priority questions, but don’t be afraid to ask followup questions as well.
If the therapist you’re speaking with cannot provide the services you need, ask them if they can suggest a few colleagues who can. This is a good way to add more names to your contact list.
After your conversation is over, take some notes about the therapist’s responses to your questions. Also record your overall impressions or gut reaction. These notes can be a huge help in making a final decision.
If a therapist is unwilling to talk to you over the phone or insists that you make an appointment, just thank them for their time and move on to the next name on your list. You can always call back and make an appointment at a later time if that seems like a good option to you.
Making a Decision
Now that you’ve made your calls, take some time to look over your notes. Who best meets your needs and preferences? What were your reactions to the therapists you interviewed?
In all likelihood, you already have a good idea of who you’d like to work with at this point. If you’re stuck between a few different therapists who seem equally good, take a gut check. Who did you make more of a connection with?
If you’re still stuck, you might consider making a followup call and asking a few questions based on your lesser preferences as a sort of tie-breaker.
If you don’t like any of your choices, you have a few options: you can go back to your referral sources and try to find new therapists to consider; or, you can simply choose the best option from among those you’ve already spoken with. As mentioned earlier, you’re looking for a good therapist, not a perfect one.
Set Up an Appointment
Now that you’ve made your decision, it’s time to call and make your first appointment.
By taking the time and trouble to find a good therapist, you’ve gotten off to a good start and greatly increased your chances for successful treatment.
Congratulations, and good luck in your therapy!
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 7 Jul 2009