How to Find Your Ideal Therapist in Boulder, CO

  BACKDROP IMAGE COURTESY OF MICHAEL W. MURPHY,  C REATIVE COMMONS  LICENSE  (VIA FLICKR)

BACKDROP IMAGE COURTESY OF MICHAEL W. MURPHY, CREATIVE COMMONS LICENSE (VIA FLICKR)

We all know that Boulder, CO is a beautiful place to live, and yet sometimes the beauty around us is in stark contrast to what is going on inside us. People in Boulder have hard times, just like they do everywhere else. And while Boulder is known to have a high concentration of psychotherapists of all stripes, it can still be tricky to find the right one for you. If you are looking for a life coach, counselor, therapist, psychiatrist, or psychologist – I’d like to help you find someone who can help.

One of the things that can be the most confusing is figuring out which type of provider you need or want. So, let’s go through what the different kinds of providers actually provide:

Life coaches are a bit different than the other types of providers listed above. Colorado doesn’t provide any regulation for life coaches at this point, so providers calling themselves life coaches can have a wide variety of backgrounds and training. In general, a life coach helps you make decisions and plans for the future and then implement those plans.

Psychotherapists, on the other hand, are a broad category of people with various levels of training. This category includes licensed counselors, psychologists, psychiatrists, marriage and family therapists, and social workers, as well as unlicensed professionals. All of these may provide psychotherapy services in Colorado. Psychotherapists help you develop mental and emotional wellness and cultivate a better understanding of how your mind works and why. 

Although a license is not required to practice psychotherapy in Colorado (one of the few states where this is true), most psychotherapists in Boulder are licensed. To become licensed, each type of psychotherapy provider must earn an appropriate degree, pass a licensing exam and accumulate many hours of supervised work with clients. Psychiatrists have earned M.D. degrees and can prescribe medications. Psychologists and some marriage and family therapists have earned Ph.D. or Psy.D. degrees, which are both doctorate level degrees. Counselors, some marriage and family therapists, and social workers have earned Master’s degrees. Most psychotherapists of all of these types have additional training in specific forms of therapy.

When looking for a psychotherapist in Boulder, you will want to consider how important various things about the therapist are to you, including fees, gender, specialization (e.g., anxiety, grief, depression, trauma, etc.), location, therapeutic approach and personality. When meeting with a prospective psychotherapist, it is a good idea to ask questions about any of these things that are important to you. Further, it can be of benefit to explore the range of specialized trainings a psychotherapist has to see if they are trained in additional modalities that might be of great benefit to you. For instance, in my own psychotherapy practice, I work with animal assisted therapy. Although this is a less common professional training, I have found that many people have taken great benefit from the approach--even though they had never considered animal assisted therapy before. With any specialized training, you should be able to find a range of information in a simple google search that will help you to understand healing modalities that you may not have known about.

Here are some tips I often give to people who ask me for advice about finding a good psychotherapist:

  • Studies have shown over and over again that the most important ingredient of successful therapy is the relationship that develops between the client and therapist. The relationship is more important than the type of training or experience of the therapist, and more important than the type of issues the client brings. I highly recommend that you identify a few therapists that you think might be a good fit, talk to each of them, and then choose the one with whom you feel the most comfortable.
  • Psychology Today provides a good searchable database of therapists. You can filter by location, specialization, type of insurance they take, methods they use, fees, etc.  Most therapists have a listing on Psychology Today.
  • Many therapists will offer a free consultation of some sort if you ask. This can range from a 10 minute phone call to a full session. I recommend taking advantage of whatever is offered, to get a sense for whether you “click” with a specific therapist before committing your time and money. This is a good time to ask the therapist how they might work with you on your specific goals for therapy.

I hope this helps you find the right therapist in Boulder. If you are still feeling stuck, feel free to call me at (720) 340-6261 for a free 20 minute phone consultation. I’d be happy to hear about what is happening and help direct you to the right person. If you are looking for help managing big feelings and reactions, whether from a difficult experience, biological or life stress, you can read more about how I can help

Stay tuned for an upcoming post with tips for what to talk about when interviewing a new therapist.