Thinking about going to therapy, but not sure how to find the right therapist?

How to Find a Therapist When Your College Counseling Center is Full

The Stress of College Life 

​College can be overwhelming: The pressure of academic demands, while at the same time being thrown off by your routine, such as irregular sleep and figuring out when to fit in meals. Then there’s new experiences, forming new friendships, feeling like one fish in a sea of many, and experiencing loneliness.  Add in difficulty adjusting to living on-campus or living in a new area.  Some college students also struggle with feeling disconnected from friends, family, and loved ones that they used to have regular contact with. College can be especially difficult for individuals who are also struggling with anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, or trauma. 


Seeking Help 

It’s not uncommon for individuals to seek therapy after stress has accumulated over time, and if you’re in college, you’ve probably been in survival mode and now the distress you’re feeling is hard to put aside.  Fortunately, colleges have on-campus counseling centers that offer individual therapy, but what happens if you show up to the counseling center to make an appointment and you’re told there’s a waitlist for therapy?  What if you’re given a list of outside referrals, you’ve called every place on that list, and haven’t heard back? 


Things to consider when searching for a therapist: 

  •  On-campus mental health clubs and organizations.  Many college campuses have these, such as To Write Love on Her Arms UChapter, Active Minds, and JED Foundation.  Oftentimes, they will go into different classes to provide a mini speaking to get their name out and invite students to an on-campus meeting.  These could be great resources for finding a therapist. 
  • On-campus mental health and wellness fairs.  These are usually held a couple months into the semester/quarter, and some schools offer an additional one towards the second half of the academic year that is specific, such as a women’s health fair.  Non-profit organizations, group practices, solo therapists, and low-fee centers will have tables with cards, brochures, and fun giveaways. And, if they’re at the fair, they’re taking new clients.  
  • Online searches.  When searching for a therapist online, be specific about what you’re struggling with and include the city or zip code you’d like services in.  Try to avoid the words “college student,” because it will give you many pages of other college counseling centers.  



About the Author:  Robyn Tamanaha is a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist, writer, and podcaster. She has a private practice in Orange County, CA and is the host of the podcast Books Between Sessions