Finding a good therapist can seem daunting, especially if one is in the midst of, or coming out of, a mood episode. As with anything else, referrals and recommendations can be extremely useful. If you already have a prescribing psychiatrist/physician/APRN she will likely have names of therapists she can recommend if she does not provide therapy herself. Many psychiatrists will have formal arrangements with licensed psychologists and social workers, sometimes within the same practice. Many hospital-based or agency-based outpatient clinics will have therapists on staff, this can be convenient and has the added advantage of better communication between members of a treatment team.
Cost and resource will obviously be a factor. Most health plans publish lists of therapists on their provider panels. Still, if at all possible, getting recommendations from family, friends, peers, or professionals you trust will increase the likelihood of finding a good therapist the first time around.
Regardless, it’s important to check the therapist’s credentials and to pay attention to your own intuition in the first session(s).
• Is this a person you can trust?
• Do you feel that he is listening to what you’re saying?
• Is he respectful?
• Does he speak in a manner that makes sense to you?
• Does he know what he’s talking about?
• Does he understand bipolar disorder?
• Is he willing to communicate with the rest of your treatment team?
• And, on a very human level, do you like him?
If the answer to any of these questions is “no,” it might be best to move on until you find someone that’s a better fit.