AMK Counseling

CBT therapy

How to find a CBT therapist?

By: Sami Schab, MSW, LSW

The process of finding a therapist can be intimidating. A quick google search will provide you
with a sea of amazing therapists, so where do you even start? On a therapist’s profile, you will
encounter a section that lists their treatment approaches or style of therapy. This can include a
variety of approaches that a clinician may pull from, but what do they really mean and how do
you know if a therapist utilizes what may be best for you? Consider what you may want to
address in therapy or some general goals. Are you or a member of your family experiencing
anxiety, depression, low self-worth, difficulty in relationships, or stressful life changes? Do you or
your child struggle with negative thinking or unhelpful patterns of behavior? If your answer is
yes to any of these questions, a therapist who uses Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) may
be a good place to start!

What is CBT and why would I look for a CBT therapist?
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, often referred to as CBT, is a common form of psychotherapy that
is shown it to be an effective treatment for a wide variety of mental illnesses, including
depression, anxiety disorders, bipolar disorder, phobias, post-traumatic stress, relationship
problems, and many more! CBT can be used with young children, teens and adults.
CBT is focused on what you may be experiencing in the here and now, helping individuals
recognize unhelpful thoughts and patterns of behavior. CBT aims to help you identify and
explore the ways your emotions and thoughts can impact your actions and vice versa. Once you
notice these patterns, you can begin learning how to change your behaviors and develop new
strategies for coping. A CBT therapist will assist you in exploring a range of coping strategies
and new patterns of thinking, continuously working to tailor the experience to your individual
needs, as everyone responds differently.
Individuals who undergo CBT show changes in brain activity, indicating that this style of therapy
may actually improve brain functioning. Cognitive behavioral therapy has a considerable amount
of scientific data supporting its use and many therapists have training in CBT, making it both
effective and accessible. So, how do you know which CBT therapist is right for you?

What steps should I take?
Consider your requirements and preferences! The therapeutic relationship can have a
significant impact on the effectiveness of therapy and movement towards goals, therefore, it is
essential to consider factors that may impact your or your child’s comfortability level with a
therapist.

● Gender and Age: Consider if there is a certain gender you would feel more at
ease speaking with. Would you like a therapist that is younger, older, or about
your same age? If you don’t have a preference, that’s alright too!
● Race/Ethnicity: Would you like a therapist that is affiliated with your own
community or has experience working with members of your community? This is something you can ask about later on in an initial phone consultation, or search for on their profile.
● In-person vs.Virtual Therapy and time/location: Would you like to see your
therapist in-person or engage in virtual sessions? If you would like to see your
therapist in-person, consider their office location and commute when scheduling
appointments. If you would like to see your therapist virtually, consider the time of
day that you would be available and have access to a private, confidential space.
● Insurance and payment: Inquire with your insurance provider on your coverage
and possible cost. If you are planning to pay out-of-pocket, consider what you
may feel comfortable with paying ahead of time to ensure that you will be able to
engage in therapy for the allotted amount of sessions that you and your therapist
see fit. If financial stressors are a concern for you in engaging in therapy, ask
your therapist if they offer a sliding scale service.

Once you identify a few CBT therapists that you feel may meet your general requirement, reach
out to them to set up an initial phone consultation. Most therapists offer 10-15 minute
complimentary phone consultations to learn more about what you are looking for, inform you
about their practice, and answer any questions you may have. Here are a couple of questions
that may be helpful to ask a potential therapist:

● What is your experience treating people with (your main concerns/goals for
therapy)?
○ Many therapists have a toolbox of treatment styles and experience in
working with a variety of issues that inform their practice. Inquire about
your specific needs to make sure it will be a good fit. For example, if you
are struggling with a phobia, you may want to seek out a CBT therapist
that also has experience with exposure therapy. Additionally, if you are
seeking a CBT therapist for your child who is experiencing anxiety, it may
be beneficial to identify a therapist that also has experience providing play
therapy.

● What may a typical therapy session with you look like?
○ This will give you insight into what the structure and feel of a session may
be. Many CBT therapists will often encourage you to engage in homework
between sessions, which will be discussed in the session itself. Consider
if what the therapist is describing would be beneficial to your individual
needs and personality.

Lastly, after (or while) you speak with a therapist and you feel it may be a good fit, set up an
initial session with them. The first several sessions, you and your therapist will begin to get to
know one another and get a better understanding of your needs and goals. After the first few
sessions, reflect on your experience thus far and consider if you are feeling understood and
heard by your therapist. Not every therapist will be a good fit for you or your situation. If
something doesn’t feel right about one therapist, it is more than fine to try with another.

To learn more about AMK’s behavioral therapy programs and team members visit us,
You can also click here schedule an intake appointment with an ERP specialist, or contact [email protected] or call 773-413-9523

Sources:

Psychotherapy. NAMI: National Alliance on Mental Illness.
https://www.nami.org/About-Mental-Illness/Treatments/Psychotherapy
Joshua E. Curtiss, Ph.D., Daniella S. Levine, B.A., Ilana Ander, B.A., Amanda W. Baker,
Ph.D.Cognitive-Behavioral Treatments for Anxiety and Stress-Related Disorders ( 2021)
https://doi.org/10.1176/appi.focus.20200045