Thanks for your post and it's great to see you here - it's wonderful that you've been so involved with BB and I can only imagine how many people you are helping by sharing your story. For what it's worth, we thought you were legit anyway :)
Yes, absolutely. It's really difficult. I think even if the forum allowed recommendations it probably wouldn't be helpful anyway because we all have very different personalities and would connect differently to every therapist.
While it's true that it can take some time to find the right fit, I've personally found that it's helpful to
- google them beforehand. You can tell a lot about a therapist by their own website (if they have one). You can also be mindful of red flags ie anything with the word cure, guarantee or promise
- ask about their fees. If they are offering a MHCP how much is the gap, and then how much is the full fee after the 10 sessions? I've seen psychologists offer fees around 300$ which is understandably a big deterrent
- asking about their approach to therapy. While the fit matters more than their approach this can give you an idea about what the sessions might look like. Psychodynamic or analytic therapy would be a lot of talking, where as a therapy such as CBT might be working more on your behaviours and thoughts and be very engaged. For some people, they need the idea of things to do, where as others are happy to just have someone to talk to.
A lot of therapists also offer up snippets of their personality and that can be helpful too; you can often get an idea of if they might have a softer approach or a confrontational one, or be deadly serious vs able to have a good laugh with you. I had a first appointment with a psychologist who told me they were very confrontational and blunt, and that wasn't what I needed or wanted to have in my own therapy
- consider where their office is and their opening hours. This is such a simple thing but it's commonly overlooked. This can be the difference between a 5-10 minute drive and an hours drive, or the difference between having to leave work early or being able to finish work and then go to therapy after hours
- schedule an appointment further away. This way it gives you lots of time to reflect on how the session went and if you think this is a therapist you want