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  • Caleb Birkhoff

Find a Therapist in San Francisco

San Francisco is a beautiful city and a worthy tourist destination. It’s seemingly perfectly located for microclimates, trips to the beach, a reasonable drive to the mountains, and a quick escape into the redwoods. With all the opportunities to escape the city, sometimes you still need to find a therapist that’s just the right fit. That can feel like a daunting task, with hundreds of websites and thousands of headshots on therapist directories. If you’re looking for the right therapist, here are some tips to help.

I Want to Help You Find a Therapist in San Francisco

My super-secret, hidden agenda is to help people find the right therapist for them. There are lots of great therapists, but if they’re not a good fit for you, does it even matter? Finding a therapist who is a good fit is essential. You’re looking for someone who you can trust, who you feel will understand you, and can support you through challenging times. It certainly requires more nuance than finding the best burrito in your neighborhood. You’re signing up for a relationship with a person, wouldn’t it be helpful to know that they do more than “provide a safe space?” Here are some tips to help you find the right therapist.

1- What do you want out of therapy?

It’s an easy place to start, but is often overlooked. Despite a lot of the generic phrases on therapist websites and directories, there are a lot specialties and expertise out there. Are you looking to negotiate a big transition? Looking for help for you and your partner with a couples therapist? Or even trying to understand and heal from past trauma? Finding a therapist who specializes in what you’re motivated to go to therapy for can make a big difference. Use these key phrases when searching online. The variation in the results for “San Francisco Therapist” and “San Francisco Couples therapist” could save you considerable time and frustration.

2- Spend the time searching!

There are thousands of therapists in San Francisco, and with virtual care, you can access therapists in California. This isn’t quite the needle in the haystack that it might seem. There are lots of great therapists out there for you, not one “soul mate” therapist that you must find. With that being said, still take some time searching. Therapist directories can be a useful place to start, but there’s a word limit for what providers can write, limiting how much you will learn, and a lot of the same looking headshot. Take the time to go to a therapist’s website, you’ll likely get a much better feel what it would be like to work with them. Though most are well curated, you’re going to get a sense of who they are, and how they might fit into your life.

3- Ask around!

You likely have a couple of experts on their own therapy in your friends, family, and colleagues (if you feel up to talking to them about it!). Manage your disclosure, access people you trust, but ask people about therapy, talk about looking for a therapist, you’ll be surprised by how helpful your people want to be. Getting someone’s firsthand experience of a therapist is a great way to learn about what might be a valuable relationship for you.

4- Try to not get caught up in all the technical therapy lingo.

Therapists love to use all the acronyms and fancy theoretical language we learned in school, completely forgetting that we have to translate it to people who don’t understand. Unless you’re set on a particular theoretical orientation, or specific treatment, you can trust that most therapists are eclectic in their styles. Also, please don’t be afraid to ask, we love to talk about the things we studied and the way we work.

5- Send that email!

Inquire about therapy, it’s a no commitment email. It is also helpful for us therapists, some details about what you’re looking for, the work you want to do, even your schedule of availability can let us know if we can be a good fit, or if there’s a better therapist out there for you. It’s a solid step towards scheduling that consultation.

6- Schedule a consultation(s)

Though it might feel strange to hear, shop around for the right therapist. Schedule a consultation or two, or three…get a chance to talk to a couple of different therapists to see who is that right fit. They’ll ask for some more details about what brings you to therapy, tell you about how they work (if they don’t, ask), and talk about some of the logistics. You don’t have to pick the first person to call you back.

7- Ask lots of questions.

The consultation is the beginning of your potential therapeutic relationship. Make sure that you get your questions answered, it can helpful to think of some ahead of time. It’s good to know how a therapist works, what you can expect from them, even how long they expect therapy to last. Especially in this day and age, it's helpful to know if they provide virtual therapy, or in-person services. Keep in mind that you’re trying to find someone who you can trust, get the answers you need. Don’t be afraid to make the decision that this isn’t the right therapist, if you’re not feeling it, better to get that out of the way early.

How Therapy Can Help

Therapy can be the vehicle that you use to find relief, coping skills, stress management, boundaries, healthy communication, negotiation of a transition, or even a more authentic version of yourself. It’s a way to set intention, build accountability, promote self-esteem, with a weekly session. It’s a more valuable resource than having a trusted friend or family member to confide in; you’ll find an impartial support for your growth and goals. In therapy you can expect to receive validation, understanding, empathy, humor, and so much more.

I hope that these tips help demystify and ease the process of finding the right therapist for you in San Francisco. If after reading all of that, you’re still feeling stuck or overwhelmed feel free to call me at 415-990-1452 for a free 15-minute phone consultation. I would be happy to hear what is happening for you, what you’re looking for and provide some direction to finding the right therapist for you.

If you are seeking help with couples therapy, drugs and alcohol, a life transition, discovering yourself, or therapy for men, you can read more about how I can help by clicking here!


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