If you don’t feel ready to discuss this stuff with other people, that’s understandable. You can also search for a therapist online—but the more specific you get, the better, Braman says. Start by googling some keywords (“therapy” plus “men’s issues” plus “near me,” for example) and see who comes up—just make sure they’re legit, meaning they’re licensed to practice in your state and have either a master’s degree or a doctorate degree in psychology, or both. However, online directories may be a better route, since many of them have filters that allow you to zero in on things like therapy type and specialties, as well as identity; Inclusive Therapists, Therapy for Black Men, and Psychology Today are a few of Braman’s favorites.
If you have health insurance, you can also use your provider’s website or contact them directly to get a list of therapists in your network, and then google their bios from there. (If your insurance doesn’t offer great coverage, or you don’t have insurance, you might find this guide to finding an affordable therapist useful.)
Make the most out of your initial conversation.
Once you have a shortlist of therapists you’re interested in, the next step is to email or call them to briefly explain why you’re seeking therapy—your job feels overwhelming, or you want to improve your relationship with your partner, for example—and inquire about their availability, as well as their typical fees and insurance requirements. If they’re accepting new clients and the cost fits your budget, you can then request a consultation.
This initial conversation is sometimes free (depending on the provider) and typically consists of a brief phone call, Braman explains. The goal is to give you a sense of the therapist’s approach and personality, he says, as well as to help them determine if their skills are a fit for your needs. They’ll also explain some of the logistics of working together—if they offer in-person, online, or hybrid sessions; fees and billing procedures; appointment frequency—and the next steps for getting started, if it feels like a good fit.
This is also a time for you to ask questions. “You can ask a therapist anything you want,“ Braman says. “We put a lot of emphasis on the therapeutic relationship, and a secure and effective one requires openness and honesty.” A smart question to start with, according to Braman: “Have you helped many people like me with similar issues?” This can give you a sense of the therapist’s experience and their confidence in their ability to help you reach your goals, he says. “How active are you as a therapist during the sessions?” is another good question to ask, Braman adds, as their answer “can help clarify how the therapist works and what roles you both may take on moving forward.” (For example: If you feel like you’ll have a hard time opening up at first, you might prefer a therapist who does their fair share of talking.)
After your initial chat, you should at least feel validated, Braman says. If not? Keep looking. You might be tempted to go with your first pick so you don’t have to go back to the drawing board, but it’s worth being picky—or, at the very least, considering a few options before you move forward. “You’re investing your time, money, and energy into this relationship, and it needs to feel right, or else you probably won’t get what you want and need out of it,” he says.
Don’t expect a quick fix.
Cultural messaging about masculinity “often tells guys they have to be strong, efficient, and successful people,” Braman says. “As a result, many men come into therapy expecting concrete and rapid solutions to complex issues in their lives.” The thing is, your problems didn’t develop overnight, so one or two sessions with a therapist probably aren’t going to fix them. That’s certainly true for serious mental health concerns like depression, trauma, and substance use disorders.
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