Have you ever wished your relationship came with an owner's manual, or that you had some kind of road map to dating so you could see where you were making wrong turns? Well, having a good therapist feels a little bit like that. While it's ultimately up to you to do the emotional work, having someone with an objective view of your relationship and the specialized tools to understand it can be absolutely game-changing. This is why knowing how to find a therapist to talk to about dating is so important, should you decide that's something you want to explore.
When should you potentially consider talking to a dating and relationship therapist? "It can be helpful [...] if you find yourself feeling somewhat stuck," Dr. Gary Brown, a prominent couples therapist in Los Angeles tells Elite Daily. "There are therapists who specialize in [these] areas who may be able to offer you some perspectives to help you navigate both the challenges and the opportunities that abound with dating and being in a relationship."
If you would like some help when it comes to your relationship or dating for any reason, Dr. LeslieBeth Wish, licensed clinical psychotherapist, relationship expert, and author of Training Your Love Intuition, says you don't have to feel like you're going it alone. "Most of us would like to believe that we could — or even should — solve our personal problems on our own. But part of being a responsible adult is being open to asking for professional help, and following through on it," she says. "You're not weak if you can't solve your relationship problems. And, yes, seeking counseling can make you anxious. So, just remind yourself that you deserve to be happy." If you're ready to seek out a therapist, here's what the experts suggest.
How To Find A Therapist
Finding a therapist can feel like a daunting task, but your best resource might be closer than you think, says Dr. Brown, who suggests asking for recommendations from your friends and family. “Talk to people you trust who have been or currently are in therapy and ask them what type of experiences they have had with their own therapist,” he says. “They may be in a very good position to offer you a personal referral of a therapist they have worked with.”
If people in your inner circle aren't able to help — or if you don't feel comfortable asking them for suggestions — Dr. Wish says social media and the internet can be very helpful. She suggests the sites for both The American Psychological Association and The American Counseling Association as great jumping-off points. From there, Dr. Brown says it's worth spending some time researching the therapists via their websites. “If the therapist has a website, and the vast majority do, that can also be a way to get a sense of who they are. Hopefully, they will have a short introductory video to help with this,” he explains.
Picking The Right Therapist For You
Once you've narrowed down the list of potential therapists to a handful, Dr. Brown says it's fine to do a little “therapist shopping” to see who's going to be the best fit for you. “This is going to be a very personal relationship and it would make sense to interview at least two or three therapists,” he says. His advice is to see if any of them offer a free 15-minute consultation. That way, you can chat with them and see if the chemistry's right.
This is also your opportunity to ask them some important questions, like what their fee is and if they take insurance. “If affordability is an issue, these are important questions to answer. Some therapists do take third-party reimbursement. Many do not,” he adds. This is also your chance to learn a bit more about how they operate and if that’s going to be a fit for you. “You might also want to ask them how they like to work. What types of outcomes have their clients achieved in general? It's quite fine to ask them how long they have been a therapist and how they like to work with their clients,” suggests Dr. Brown.
After you’ve met with the therapists, Dr. Brown advises picking the one you feel most comfortable. That chemistry is really important! “It is certainly true that the education, training, and experience of the therapist is important. More important is that you feel a good rapport with your therapist. My clients have told me that this was more important to them than anything else,” he explains. “It's also important to be with a therapist who will be authentic with you and will need to be courageous enough to say things that may be difficult for you to hear. If you're going to a therapist for the sole reason of trying to have someone always agree with you, then it's likely that you may not make as much progress as you might want.”
Therapy is ultimately a collaboration between you and your therapist, Dr. Brown explains. The process is meant to help you learn about yourself and what your goals are — whether that's personally, in your relationship, or even in your dating life — and finding what internal blocks are getting in the way of achieving them. If that's something you think can be helpful, then there's no need to be afraid to ask for help. The sooner you do so, the better.
Dr. Gary Brown, a prominent couples therapist in Los Angeles