How do people go about this?
In my 20s I got a lot out of talk therapy, but I never actually had to pick a therapist. I just used the one that I could afford, which typically meant showing up at a public clinic, and signing up with one of the sliding scale therapists, which was usually a student of some sort. Surprisingly I had pretty good luck. I never ran into a terrible therapist and I think I got information and encouragement that was mostly helpful.
However, I have had little luck in the last 10 years trying to find a good therapist. Oddly I now have pretty good benefits with my job, and there are any number of therapists at my disposal, but I can’t seem to find someone I’m interested in working with. I’ve tried screening over the phone, but it’s not really clear how to do this. I’ve tried picking by A) degrees B) background C) location of office. But this also seems hit or miss. It’s a lot of work to start this kind of relationship.
One time I went to a guy’s office and he had all these big bibles on his shelf. Somehow he had not told me he was a Christian therapist, which I didn’t even know they had those outside of churches. Another time I went to a guy’s office and I assume he was Jewish because one of the first things he asked me was how I felt about the middle east situation, I assume because he recognized my name as Arabic, and wanted to see where I stood. It wasn’t a big deal, but it just seemed like an odd way to start a therapeutic relationship. He also seemed to have had a porn collection on his office computer, so I gave him a pass.
I’ve also found guys who seemed to pass initial muster, but then after working with them for a few weeks/months, I realized it wouldn’t work out. One guy seemed too quick to weigh in with his opinion. Maybe I have unrealistic expectations, but I have never responded well to therapists who are eager to offer their opinion on issues it seems like each individual has to work out for him or herself.
How have others dealt with this sort of thing?