Here are some things to look for when you are researching the right professional for you:
Experience and training
When you are referred to a professional, it is a good idea to look them up. Most clinicians have a website which describes their training background and experience. This will give you an idea of what the professional specializes in. Sometimes, this could tell you whether the professional has received specialized training in their area of expertise.
You can check the licensing board website to see if the professional has a current license.
This will help you to know the clinician’s professional standing (Are they keeping their license current, which in turn could relate to whether they are committed to updating their knowledge). Please note that the regulatory boards vary by profession. In the state of Georgia, there are two licensing boards (related to the mental health field), which fall under the Office of Secretary of State:
1. Georgia Board of Psychology
2. Georgia Board of Professional Counselors, Social Workers, and Marriage and Family Therapists.
Mental Health professionals use a variety of therapeutic approaches to serve individuals. These therapeutic orientations are theories and principles that guide the professionals’ work. Some professionals use a combination of these principles. It is a good idea to look for this information when researching your professional. Also, you can ask the professional what orientation/theory do they follow in their work. Examples of various commonly used therapeutic orientations can be found on: https://www.apa.org/topics/therapy/psychotherapy-approaches
Listen to your instincts about your first contact with the professional. Does the professional appear to be welcoming, non-judgmental, and genuine? Will this approach work for you? How do you feel after you meet with the professional/talk with them on the phone? Did they appear flexible and open to feedback from you as well? Do you feel safe in sharing your private information with this individual? Remember, that research has shown that therapeutic relationship is the most important common factor in successful therapeutic outcomes (i.e. how well you will do). So, it is all the more important to make sure this professional is the right fit for you.