Crap, I Need a New Therapist

I just had some news from my therapist. I’ve known for a while that she and a colleague had started a part-time private practice outside of the clinic I work through. So it’s not unreasonable that, if all went well, she would eventually switch over to the private practice full-time. But it means that for the first time in about fifteen years, I’ll need to find a new therapist.

Those of you with conditions requiring regular therapy will get me here. Getting a new therapist is a pain in the ass. It’s scary. It can be frustrating, a huge time-waste, and a potential insurance snag if the first one/s you try aren’t a good fit. And your first appointment is more like an interview – you’re interviewing them, they’re interviewing you.

“Hiring” a therapist

The focus is on the former: you get to decide whether or not to “hire” a particular therapist. But choices might be limited, given your insurance or other factors. For example, I have a psychiatrist and a GP in the same clinic system. Even if I decide to see someone in another town, it would be great to find someone in the same system, so they can share treatment notes, med lists, blood test results, etc. Different people need different things for their illness, but I’ve found what works for me is having a good medical “team” on my side.

On the other hand, that limits me to two nearby choices. The rest are a distance away. It’s do-able, and the other docs are 30 minutes from my home, but like I said, limiting.

A good fit?

The second part of the “interview” is on the therapist’s side. That means you need to fill a stranger in on your mental health and medical background, and a bit on your life situation. Which is a pain. And in the back of your head, you know, if they’re not a good fit, you’ll have to do it all over again. Argh.

So how can I figure out if someone will be a good fit? How will I know in the first few visits whether this person will really be helpful to me? My health, my quality of living, literally depend on this. How much time will I have to spend re-hashing the past? Or, will this person have some fresh approaches and techniques? Perhaps, as much as I loved her, my therapist of 15 years and I had slipped into some complacency? She was a great fit … and she’s a Behaviorist – do I need to look for another Behaviorist? Oh, help.

Under-reporter

Over the years my docs have told me I’m UR, or “under-reporter,” meaning I downplay problems and symptoms. I often don’t realize I’m doing it. This hasn’t been a problem with any doctor that was aware of it. With new docs, those I’ve seen for the odd bug or whatever, I have to make a point of stressing my symptoms and giving clear, specific details – how long, how often, how many times. Too many doctors – yes, even in this day and age – automatically assume any patient who is also getting mental health treatment will exaggerate or make up medical symptoms.

[Yes, I’m serious. One red-headed physician at my clinic (who I refuse to ever see again) assumed my post-thyroid-ablation-procedure symptoms were imaginary, even though 1) the ablation was in my chart, 2) it was ordered by his colleague, and 3) I’d been told to come in when these exact symptoms appeared. He was attentive up to the point where he read something (I can guess) in my chart, and then just flipped it closed, frowned, and told me I had to see my psychiatrist first. I wish now I’d reported him and refused to pay for the visit; ignoring ablated hypothyroidism is a bad idea. Instead, I slunk back a few days later and saw my own GP; she was very annoyed he’d blown me off.]

I’m way off-point – sorry. But you can see why the Unknown Doctor (therapist) concerns me. And a therapist needs to not only be good at what they do, their personality also needs to be a good fit.

So, now I have until mid-August to settle things. At least my current doc gave me some warning, so I have time to get used to the idea.

She says there’s a very nice new therapist right at the clinic’s RoseAppleFarmVille branch.
Related: “Top Ten Signs You Are With The Wrong Therapist

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