Seeking therapy of any kind can be a supportive, transformative and empowering step in your journey. However, finding the right therapist who is a good fit for your needs can sometimes feel overwhelming. With what feels like endless options online, many different types of support and services available, it's essential to approach the search process with clarity and intention. In this blog post, I'll provide you with a comprehensive guide to help you get started on your journey to finding the right grief therapist for you.
Reflect on Your Needs
Before even beginning your search, take some time to reflect on your specific needs and goals for therapy. Your experience with grief is unique to you, so begin with considering the reasons you are seeking therapy, the challenges you want to address, and the type of support you are looking for. Identifying your needs will help you narrow down the search and find therapists who specialize in the areas you wish to focus on.
Seek Specialization in Grief and Bereavement
Look/search for therapists who specialize in grief, loss and bereavement counselling. They should have specific training and experience in supporting individuals navigating the complexities of grief. It may come as a shock (it still blows my mind), but most degrees and educational programs do not teach grief support, and if they do it is very minimal. This is not okay, and is a disservice to all those seeking support; however that's a conversation for another day because I have a lot to say about that.
Finding a therapist who has specialized knowledge and training specific to grief can help ensure that your therapist understands the unique challenges, nuances, and complexities of grief and grieving so that they can provide compassionate support as you navigate the tender and wild nature of your grief.
Check Credentials - Personal and Professional
If someone says they are a grief specialist, are they self proclaimed? Do they have specific training and skills to serve grieving people? Have they had personal experience with grief?
The type of credentials and professional licensing may play a role in coverage if you are seeking to have your sessions covered by insurance providers. Double check who/what your insurance plan covers and then ask the therapist you are seeking out if their credentials match. If it is important to you that your therapist has navigated their own grief journey, you may ask about that as well.
Personal and professional experience bring different things to the table. Personal experience supports our understanding of loss and what it is like to navigate grief, and may deepen the understanding of the lived experience of others. Professional experience and training may been seen as a supportive safe guard as every grief experience is unique, with grief specific training your therapist will be able to take into account a wide range of tools and supportive processes will ensure your that they are equip to support you in finding your own unique way through grief.
Utilize Online Directories
Explore your options. There are various online directories and resources dedicated to helping individuals find therapists. Websites like Psychology Today, provide searchable databases where you can filter therapists based on location, specialization, and other preferences. Explore these platforms and read therapists' profiles to gain a sense of their backgrounds, therapeutic approaches, and areas of expertise.
Seek Recommendations and Referrals
Reach out to trusted friends, family members, healthcare professionals, or trusted groups who may have experience with grief counseling or a connection with a grief specialist. Ask for recommendations or referrals to therapists who specialize in grief therapy in your city or online. Personal referrals can provide valuable insights and help you find a therapist who has a track record of providing compassionate and effective support.
Evaluate Connection and Compatibility
In addition to grief specific training and credentials, it is essential that you feel comfortable and safe with your therapist, and that the space they provide feels like a space you are able to open up and explore the nuances of your grief in. Many therapists offer an initial consultation or phone call so that you can get a sense of their personality, communication style, their approach, the vibe of the space they hold, and so that you can ask any questions before beginning. Trust your gut here - does this feel like someone you can develop good rapport and connection with?
A consultation gives you an opportunity to connect with the therapist, get a feel for their personality, how they work, and how you feel in their presence. This is also a great opportunity to ask any questions you have, whether that be about cost, style, approach, or otherwise. Use this time to get a feel for the therapist's demeanor, their ability to create a safe and non-judgmental space, and their level of expertise in addressing your concerns.
Consider Therapuetic Approach
Different therapists may have different therapeutic approaches or modalities. Consider what type of support you are looking for, and which approaches resonate with you or have been recommended for grief counseling. Finding a therapist whose approach aligns with your preferences can enhance the effectiveness of the counseling process.
Consider Practical Factors
In addition to therapeutic fit, it's important to consider practical factors such as location, availability, and affordability. With the rise in online therapeutic options, some of these factors may be less of a challenge but are still important to consider. How would you like to receive support? Consider whether you prefer in-person sessions or are open to online therapy options. Check if the therapist accepts your insurance or offers sliding-scale fees if cost is a concern. These practical considerations will contribute to your overall experience and accessibility of therapy.
Remember that finding the right therapist is a personal process, and it may take time to find someone who is the best fit for your needs. Don't hesitate to ask questions, discuss your expectations, and voice any concerns during the initial consultation. A skilled and compassionate grief therapist can provide invaluable support as you navigate the complexities of grief and healing.
About the Author:
Hayley Yarish is a Registered Clinical Counsellor (RCC), Grief Therapist, Compassionate Bereavement Care Provider, and Certified Grief Recovery Specialist®. She specializes in supporting individuals who are navigating loss and grief of any kind. Her own experiences with grief and loss have cracked her heart wide open and led her to doing this sacred work in the world.
Specific areas of focus: death of a loved one (recent or past), life changing transitions, relationship transitions and break ups, pregnancy loss, grief around family planning, and supporting entrepreneurs through the grief that comes with growth.
To learn more about Hayley or to book a session with her, click here.