Finding a Therapist in Calgary (and Beyond!)

You've scrolled through 20+ pages of Psychology Today profiles. You've spent hours sifting through your Google Search results. You've peeled through ALL of the online therapist directories. But you still haven't landed on a decision, and you still haven't made contact with a therapist. Instead, you're overwhelmed. Which therapist do you choose? How do you know if you're making an informed choice? Does it really have to be this difficult finding a therapist?

Selecting a therapist to work with can feel stressful, exhausting, and time consuming. Professional help can be a game-changer, but navigating the massive volume of local directories, therapist websites, and google search results has the potential to leave us feeling more discouraged and unsure about our next steps. Below I offer a few tips to help refocus your efforts when navigating what can often feel like a never-ending process:

1. Understand Your Needs, Preferences, and Desired Outcomes

Before embarking on your search for a therapist, it’s important to have a clear understanding of your needs and goals. Take some time to reflect on what you hope to gain from therapy. Are you struggling with anxiety, depression, or relationship issues? Do you need help managing stress or trauma? Is it important that your therapist demonstrate competency in working with clients of specific cultural backgrounds? By identifying what is important to you and your wellbeing, you can narrow down your search.

2. Learn About Different Therapeutic Approaches

Therapy encompasses a wide range of approaches, each with its own theories and techniques. It's important to familiarize yourself with the different therapeutic approaches to determine which one resonates with you. Some common approaches include cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), emotion-focused therapy, and eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) therapy. Research each approach and consider which one aligns with your personal beliefs and preferences.

3. Research

If you are clear on your needs, goals, and preferences, look for therapists who specialize in the specific issue you want to address. Read their bios, qualifications, and areas of expertise to find a good fit. In addition, there is a broad range of professionals that provide counselling and therapy in Alberta; so, if you plan on being reimbursed through your extended health benefits, be sure to check with your insurer so you know which type of providers (e.g., psychologists, social workers) are approved. 

4. Seek Recommendations

Seek word-of-mouth recommendations from trusted friends, family members, or healthcare providers. Personal referrals can provide valuable insights into a therapist's approach and effectiveness. Do keep in mind that what was helpful for someone else may not be helpful for you, so keep your needs and preferences at the forefront of your mind. 

5. Take Advantage of Initial Consultations

Once you have narrowed down your options, schedule initial consultations with potential therapists. Many therapists offer complementary initial consultations either in-person or over the phone. Use these sessions to ask questions, discuss your concerns, and gauge your comfort level and compatibility with the therapist.

6. Consider Logistics

Consider the cost, availability, location, and schedule of therapy sessions. Some therapists offer sliding-scale fees or accept insurance, so be sure to inquire about these options as well.

Choosing a therapist may not be a straightforward process, and it may even take some trial-and-error before you find a therapist that you are ready to work with. Setting out a process, such as the one above, can help keep you on track as you explore and narrow down your options.