A therapist can be a very personal choice, so it can seem a bit ridiculous to apply mathematics to such a situation.
But let me build up to it using a trivial choice: deciding where to fill up your car.
Let’s say that you will pass quite a few gas stations on your way going home, and you want to fill up your car for the cheapest price. You need to choose when to buy and when to drive on to the next one.
In this example we will assume that you don’t have a place that you already know is cheaper, and also that you can’t be bothered turning around and going back if you discover that the cheapest one was one you passed earlier.
When you drive by and see the price, how are you do choose what to do?
Do you just pick the first one you see and forget it? Do you wait for one that “seems” cheap? What if the later ones are all more expensive and you end up missing out on the better prices that came earlier?
What is the optimum strategy in such an uncertain situation?
It turns out that this has been tested mathematically, and the optimum strategy is fairly simple…
–> Drive past the first place and check the price, but don’t buy. Keep driving and turn in as soon as there is price cheaper than the first place.
This method works because it is very unlikely that the first place you go past will be the cheapest, but you also won’t wait too long and miss all the good prices.
So here’s a good use of this strategy…
Choosing A Therapist.
[This applies equally to professional help of any type from accountants and lawyers to naturopaths and dentists, and also to choosing self help books, videos, treatments, etc including the self help material you can purchase on this site.]
Most people who come to see me never really looked around before they settled on who they wanted to help them. They got a recommendation from their doctor or from a friend, or looked up on the internet. If you are happy to just accept their recommendation, or you will do a full treatment and move on to the next one if that one doesn’t work, then that’s fine, but to decide for yourself more quickly I suggest you do something different.
Assess the first person. Then search for someone better.
It’s not personal. It’s just playing the odds. Got back pain? Want to stop smoking? There are hundreds of choices available to you, and none of them work 100% of the time. The biggest risk is procrastinating and doing nothing.
Let me repeat: when you are in a new area and don’t yet have a comparison, then the first person you go to is mathematically UNlikely to be the best person for you.
Is this a lot of hunting? Yes it can be, and it’s certainly more than just taking the first option.
Is it worth the hunt? Well that depends on how important it is to you. Even if you hunt and find nothing better, then at least you know this when you go back.
Do you need to hunt forever? No. That’s the beauty of this strategy. You get started at the optimum time: when you know you are committing to the best decision you can make, as soon as possible.
Need help in any area and got too many choices?
Find a first option, sort out how to compare it to other options. Then keep searching and when you find better, get started on that one immediately.
-Dr Martin W. Russell