Menopause often brings on a slew of issues that many women haven’t had to deal with before, and you mention a few of them: anxiety, mood swings, and loss of libido. Add those ingredients to a time that’s already often filled with change (retirements, empty nests, aging parents), and I’m glad you’re thinking about getting some support! Finding the right therapist can make a world of difference for you.
I’d start by asking someone you know and trust, whether that’s your physician, a friend, a family member, or your spiritual leader. More often than you’d guess, they can offer personal connections that are likely to work well for you. Psychology Today hosts an online directory of therapists that you can search by state and then city. Look up any therapist you are considering and read the bios, paying special attention to their specific areas of expertise. There are often multiple websites with information and even reviews of a therapist who’s been in the field for a while, so use your Google skills to your advantage! As an approach, cognitive therapy can help with issues like anxiety, mood swings, and triggers for hot flashes by teaching coping skills and strategies to overcome these problems.
Use a first meeting with any therapist to see whether it feels like a good fit. Does this seem like a person who is understanding your specific issues? Do you feel comfortable with him or her? If you don’t, you may not be as forthcoming as you need to be for the most benefit, and you may find yourself resisting their observations or advice.
If you don’t see a good fit, look for an alternative resource. It may take interviewing several therapists before you find the one who works for you and understands your specific needs. Don’t let that deter you. Keep trying until you find the right one! If your local network runs out of recommendations, you can contact the American Board of Couple and Family Psychology at (919) 537-8031.
Finally, prepare for your first visit. Think about what you are really hoping will come out of this experience and be honest with yourself. Sometimes what we’d really like isn’t realistic for us (I want to feel like a teenager again!). Understanding your own agenda is a big help.