Looking for a therapist can be a daunting task. Once you have decided you would like to speak to someone it can be difficult to know what to do next. There are great resources to make this search easier but that cannot predict the therapeutic relationship. The relationship between you and your counselor is the best predictor of success in therapy. After you have determined what you will need in therapy, schedule a phone call with your therapist to ask questions and see if you feel comfortable with that person. Answer the questions below to help guide your decision in finding a therapist.

What do you need help with?

There are many options when it comes to mental health services so this is the best way to narrow your options. If you are looking for help in your marriage, you can eliminate seeing a psychiatrist and most psychologists. To narrow your list even further, look at Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists only. If you are only looking for medication to compliment your current therapy or an adjustment to your medication, only look at psychiatrists. Once you determine the issue you want to resolve, it is easy to search for practitioners by their licenses and specialties.

How will you pay?

If you have insurance, always start there. I am an out- of- network therapist but I personally know the value of therapists that take insurance. When I was looking for a therapist, I was in the beginning stages of my career and did not have a lot of money. I knew that I had pretty good insurance so to save time and money; I contacted therapists using my insurance website. While it was not as easy as I thought it would be, I found a wonderful therapist.  As you look for therapists through your insurance you will learn that your insurance may not cover all treatment. While there are some exceptions, most insurance does not cover couples or family therapy. This means you may need to look at out of network therapists. The cost of out of network therapists is a little higher but you may be able to be reimbursed by your insurance. Most therapists take cash, check or credit card to cover your portion of the costs.

What do you want from your therapist?

Whether you have been to therapy before or not, you may have some expectations of the process. It is important to be aware that every therapist is different based on their therapeutic approach, personality and your issue. This means there will never be a one-size-fits-all therapist. This also means that there are many different ways for you to get help. You may think that it is best that you speak to an older single woman because she can relate to you better; while a younger married man may better help you confront your issues. Be clear in what you need help with but understand that help sometimes looks different than we expect.

Once you are clear on the above questions, take a look at the providers within your insurance network or check out the therapists here on Melanin and Mental Health, Therapy for Black Girls or the biggest therapist directory, Psychology Today. There are therapists available to help you but you will have to do a little leg work to find the right professional for you.