Finding a therapist is just like any other relationship in a person’s life: you have to find one that you connect with, that shares your values, and for some people, having a similar background as you is important. So considering that, auditioning therapists is also a lot like dating. Sometimes you can go to a therapist for weeks before realizing that maybe this isn’t the right therapist for you. Probably that won’t happen; a good therapist will usually do an assessment 2 or 3 weeks in to see how you’re feeling about him or her and the process, and gauge whether or not you’re happy with them. Nevertheless, shopping for a therapist can be an intimidating, lengthy, and frustrating experience.
Fortunately and unfortunately, my first real therapy experience was so out-of-the-ballpark awesome, and so exactly what I needed, that I think I’ll be forever spoiled on other therapists (though I also realize that this is a general mind-set I need to get out of). But lately I’ve been pretty acutely feeling the need to be back in therapy, so my new search has begun.
Most therapists, however, are out of my price range, my being a meager grad student with shitty “insurance” and all. Lucky for me, though, Portland has a glut of therapists that can get a little competitive with each other. Not to mention numerous “counseling centers” that make it easy to find them: there’s the Samaritan Counseling Center; the Men’s Resource Center; Wise Counsel & Comfort; and then just a myriad of things like the Gay Dads Group. To name a few.
So I’ve started making a list, based primarily on cost and background. It’s important to me to go to a gay male therapist, I think. I’ve never really tried any other kind, except at St. Edward’s, because it was free, and while that guy was real nice, we just didn’t click.
So I’ve narrowed down my list to 3 gay men; one woman who looked nice in her picture; one normal straight dude who’s still needs to finish his doctorate and therefore has a “liberal sliding scale” for fees and is right around the corner from my house; one guy that practices Oriental medicine and healing, which makes me cringe, but he gives you acupuncutre, which I’ve always wanted to try, and he goes as low as $30 a session; and then some dude that practices something called Social Construction Practices, which, if you can past the new agey mumbo jumbo, actually sounds reasonable. One thing I think affects me is that I live in an individualistic society and I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m much more suited to living in a collectivist society, and that causes me adjustment problems.
Or maybe I’m full of shit with that, but it sounds good.
But the best part of everyone I picked? They all have a free initial consultation, which lasts anywhere from an hour to 90 minutes, so they way I look at it is if nothing else, if I go on a “date” with all these therapists, that’s 7 free sessions!
Whoever said I wasn’t resourceful?