When choosing a restaurant for a special occasion, I go online.
I check the menu and prices on the restaurant website; browse the Menupages reviews to learn about the dining experience of other customers; and look up any New York Magazine or New York Times reviews.
Finding a therapist online is somewhat different.
If you’re looking for a therapist and don’t have a recommendation from someone you trust, you may look online, as well, since we’ve learned to do that for everything.
What are your criteria? Some patients look for publication credits, office location, and price. Others consider treatment philosophy and expertise in a particular area.
One friend had very specific requirements: male, around 50 years old, office in the Village, thin, with an appealing face and a specialization in addiction treatment.
Many people check Yelp! and City Search reviews.
Finding a therapist online? Search online therapy-specific sites.
I’d suggest going to a reputable site, such as Psychology Today, Family & Marriage Counseling Directory, or networktherapy.com, and browse the therapist listings. Get a sense of several therapists, their approach, and treatment philosophy to see what feels comfortable for you. If someone meets your criteria and has a website, you can read more about them and their services. Then call and set up a first appointment to see how you click in person. So far, so good.
By-pass online therapist reviews
I strongly suggest that you don’t read reviews of therapists. As the author of a recent Op-Ed in the New York Times (read here) mentions, reviews of therapists by patients are quite different than customer reviews of restaurants, products, other types of services. Disgruntled patients are more likely to write reviews than satisfied ones, and what is not helpful to one patient may be invaluable to another. It’s a subjective experience. Very different than undercooked chicken, which is indisputable!
A patient who writes a negative review of a therapist may be what some people call a “help-rejecting complainer”: someone who complains about any help that’s offered, but refuses to do the work of treatment—and then blames the therapist.
Testimonials on a therapist’s website will give you more of a sense of the therapist’s approach and are from patients who have been helped. They see the value of treatment with the therapist.
Diane Spear, LCSW-R, owns a private practice in the Union Square/East Village area of Manhattan (New York City). She specializes in anxiety, depression, couples, and parenting treatment, and has been helping people find the joy in everyday life since 1995. She is accepting new patients. To learn more about Diane’s approach to treatment, click here.