Once you have made the decision to seek psychotherapy, your first challenge is to find a therapist you can trust, relate to and afford. Even with thousands of practicing therapists in NYC alone, finding a mental health professional who ticks all your boxes can still be quite a challenge. Obviously, not all psychotherapists operate from the same playbook. There are many different philosophies, approaches, education levels and personalities to consider, and not all are compatible with your own personality and needs.
Some people have equated the process of finding the right therapist to “dating around,” and you may have some dud dates before you find “the one.” To help you navigate this complex process more easily, we’ve compiled the following brief guide to help you narrow the search for the right therapist in NYC.
Know the Different Types of Therapists
Mental health professionals fall into one of several categories based on their level of training and their approach to therapy—which can also affect their rates. Here’s a quick overview of the types of therapists you’ll find in NYC:
- Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC). Mental health professionals are qualified to help people with a broad range of psychological and relationship problems using various forms of psychotherapy (all members of our team at Manhattan Mental Health Counseling are LMHCs.)
- Psychiatrists. As licensed medical doctors (MDs), these professionals are trained both in general medicine and psychotherapy, and they are generally the only therapists authorized to prescribe medications for mental health disorders.
- Psychologists. Psychologists are doctors of a different kind (Ph.D. or Psy.D.), and cannot prescribe medications in New York state. They go through years of training and often specialize in certain types of disorders. They can treat many types of mental and emotional disorders through psychotherapy.
- Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW). These professionals provide mental health support and can also help clients access social services and locate resources.
The Various Types of Therapy
Before choosing a therapist of any of these varieties, you should also be aware of the most common approaches to psychotherapy. While all of these approaches are valid and have produced results, one or more approaches may be more suited to your needs and personality. We discuss these approaches in more detail here, but here’s a quick overview:
- Humanistic/Experiential Therapy—This form of psychotherapy takes a positive, holistic approach toward helping people explore the various aspects of their nature as a person, helping them get in touch with their own feelings and accentuating and growing the positive traits versus focusing solely on the negative symptoms. This approach can be helpful for a wide range of disorders including depression, anxiety, personality disorders, addiction and low self-esteem in general.
- Psychodynamic Therapy—One of the oldest forms of psychotherapy, the psychodynamic approach explores how your past experiences and subconscious affect your behavior, choices and outlook today, so you can hopefully adjust and take a healthier route going forward.
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)—This practical approach explores the link between our negative thoughts and actions and seeks to retrain better thinking to produce better outcomes in our lives. CBT is a short-term therapeutic approach that can be a good choice for people suffering from crippling anxiety, stress, phobias or addictions.
- Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT)—DBT is a particularly interesting approach incorporating elements of CBT with an emphasis on living in the moment and finding a balance between acceptance and change. This approach seeks to equip people with the skills to handle their negative emotions and stresses in a constructive manner through self-acceptance. It can be quite helpful for people struggling with volatile emotions, borderline personality disorder or a tendency toward self-harm, among others.
Tips for Choosing the Right Therapist for You
Beyond knowing which type of professional you need and which approach they use, there’s still a bit of alchemy in finding the right match, simply because you’re going to be vulnerable with this person, and your personalities need to be aligned. Some tips to help get you to the right person:
- Ask friends, family or your doctor for leads. Don’t just ask for a referral; ask whether that person uses that therapist (in the case of friends/family), their experience and why they like them.
- Check your insurance. If you have insurance, this factor may play a role in whom you choose or whom you can afford.
- Research online. You can find online profiles of many therapists in NYC, detailing their areas of focus, areas of interest and backgrounds. You can also find reviews of patients who have worked with them. “Find a therapist nyc” might a good first search. Add information to your search to find more specific results – for example, “female psychotherapist in nyc for anxiety near Union Square.”
- Go for a first appointment. During the first appointment, the therapists will have a lot of questions to assess your needs, your mental state and what you wish to accomplish out of your time in therapy. Feel free to ask questions of your own to assess whether the therapist is a good fit for you and what you can expect from therapy.
Finally, be patient with the process. You may have to meet with several therapists before you find the one you’re comfortable with. Choosing a therapist is not an exact science—it’s highly subjective, but with patience, you’ll find someone who can truly help.
Here at Manhattan Mental Health Counseling, we’ve included a helpful a filtering feature on our team pages that allows you to apply filters based on the type of therapy or the type of issue you’re having. It’s an easy starting point for discovering whether one of our team members is right for you.
We invite you to call our office at 212-960-8626 and schedule a time to talk with our Psychotherapy Coordinator. She might be able to help you find the right therapist.