A question that is always in people’s minds when engaging with a product or service is, “Am I receiving the best?” This is, in part, due to our natural human instinct for comparison, problem-solving, and forward movement to keep questing and pursuing more and better. It is also, in part, to our consumer culture which keeps us doubting and questioning what is bad, good, and best. Of course this question comes up in the therapy arena as well, though the answer definitely looks different than if you are using the best phone or eating the best donair.
Therapy is an immensely personal thing and, therefore, evaluation of it is much different than for things that are more objective. That being said, however, there are some key elements to help distinguish the worst from the best psychological services Calgary, which is our hometown, and beyond.
One way to think about the best psychological services Calgary and beyond is looking at red, beige, and green flag criteria.
Avoid These Red Flags when Looking for the Best Psychological Services in Calgary
Unfamiliar with this system? It is a nomenclature used more commonly thanks to social media where it is often used to identify good, bad, and less bad signs for relationships. It has since been extended to lots of other areas and can definitely be applied to the therapeutic realm. Justin the Therapist recently did a series on Instagram in January on red, beige, and green flags for therapy. Feel free to check it out, compare it to our flags, and see if there are any that we have missed.
When it comes to red flags, these are the ‘run away, don’t look bad, the building is burning down’ signs that the relationship you are in (or considering being in) with your therapist is not good. Here are some of the top ones:
- Someone you do not feel comfortable with
- Someone you cannot be honest with
- Someone you feel judged by
- Someone who does not prioritize you in session (e.g., they are distracted or talk a lot about themselves)
- Someone who self-discloses about themselves a lot and/or inappropriately
- Someone who is unreliable
- Someone who is critical and shaming
- Someone who is inconsistent with their approach
- Someone who sets the goals for you
- Someone who clearly has their own issues to work through and hasn’t/isn’t
- Someone who is charging more than the recommended fee for their work
- Someone who is not a registered professional
- Someone who has you commit to a certain number of sessions or specific program
- Someone who is trying to ‘upsell’ you services
If ANY one of these are present in your current psychological relationship, I would strongly encourage you to consider making a change. There are great therapists out there and you deserve better!
How to Find the Best Psychological Services Calgary: Beige Flags to Watch Out For
While these are not as bad as red flags, they are still worth paying attention to and being cautious about. You may not have to run out of the building screaming like with red flags, but you may want to consider briskly walking while looking over your shoulder, if you know what I’m saying.
- Someone who is sometimes distracted
- Their attitude can be minimizing
- They seem to have a hard time understanding you
- You seem to have a hard time getting what they’re saying
- Recommendations don’t always make sense to you
- They may be inconsistent with their scheduling
- Sessions feel different each time
- You are unsure if this is helping
Therapy is not easy so having a therapist who challenges you can sometimes feel discombobulating and lead to some of these experiences, but trust your head and gut to know the difference between you having a hard time with the process versus the process being harder than it needs to be.
Choosing the Best Psychological Services in Calgary: Evaluating Green Flags
Just as in driving, green means go! The more of these that are present with your existing or prospective psychological services, the better! While there is no such thing as the objective ‘best’ psychological services in Calgary and beyond, there are common indicators that you are where you need to be and in a place where you can be supported. Here are our main green flags:
- A clear online presence where you can learn about the practitioner and/or clinic beforehand (such as this About Us page)
- A transparent practitioner who offers free consultations and/or informative responses by phone and/or email
- Payment terms are clear and established beforehand and don’t change without notice
- Payment is only taken at the time of service, never before
- The provider is established and registered
- The provider is someone you are comfortable with
- The provider has an empathetic, open, and confident manner
- They provide services that are tailored to you, not a ‘one size fits all’ approach
- They have training in multiple types of therapeutic approaches and modalities
- They are clear on what they specialize in and what they do not
- They are willing to provide referrals for areas outside of their expertise
- They offer recommendations and tools for you outside of session
- They are encouraging of you exploring other resources and do not expect that they will be it for you
- They are open-minded and non-judgmental
- You are getting what you need from them
- They are clear about policies, consent, and communication
- You understand them and they understand you
Here are some additional tips for you:
- Trust your gut when seeking out the best psychological services Calgary or your hometown as no one knows better than you what is best for you!
- Value word of mouth referrals from friends and family about where they found the best psychological services Calgary or your hometown, but also see the first point if something doesn’t feel quite right for you about their recommendation
- Remember that you can change your mind anytime. What feels comfortable initially may shift over time and it is okay to change paths with your provider
- Remember that the ‘best’ psychological services in Calgary or your hometown are the best for your needs and self at this time; things can change and relationships can change and your needs may be different than other people
- Therapists cannot ethically seek out reviews so there may not be as many available for someone you are interested in as others. This may not indicate they are not a good provider, it just means that their clients have not gone out of their way to initiate a review. They may also be newer in practice or at a particular clinic
We wish you all the best in your search for the best psychological services. Calgary and Airdrie are happily home to hundreds of mental health professionals and bigger centres have even more available so we know the search can be daunting and overwhelming. Use search tools like search engines and/or Psychology Today to help you filter down your options, create a curated list, and do some research and consultations from there to find someone who suits your therapeutic needs, as well as logistical needs when it comes to location, demographics, and fees.
Therapy can be incredibly rewarding and beneficial, especially when with the right fit. We hope this list of red, beige, and green flags helps you feel more empowered in finding the best fit for you.
Sana Psychological is an Addiction & Mental Health clinic offering services to those in Calgary and Airdrie in person, as well as virtually to those in Alberta, Yukon, and New Brunswick. Appointments can be booked online anytime or you can contact us with any questions you have or to enquire about setting up a 15 minute free consultation with any of our practitioners. We look forward to hearing from you!