Picking the Right Therapist for You

Finding the right therapist is critical in order to achieve your therapy goals and have a successful experience.  Just as you would make sure that your car mechanic, doctor or business consultant understands your needs and respects your personality, so too – and even more so – should your therapist.

You can get recommendations of therapists from friends, family members or your insurance provider, or by doing a quick Google search for therapists in your area.  However, no matter who the therapist is, whether it’s a new graduate from social work school or a seasoned professional with a boatload of clients, the most important thing to determine is if he or she is a good fit for you.

Different strokes for different folks

Some people are looking for a therapist to primarily listen and offer them a supportive ear.  Others want a proactive therapist to give feedback and offer insight on their situation.  Perhaps you want a Freudian-type therapist to do deep psychoanalysis, or you like the more standard cognitive or behavioral therapies.  Take some time to figure out what exactly you are looking for in a therapist so you can better evaluate whether this is a good match.  (If you aren’t familiar with different therapy styles, that’s fine.  You can ask your therapist about the different styles and pros and cons of each.)

You should also evaluate more general factors such as cultural background, language and personality.  Studies show that the more similar you are to your therapist with regard to speaking the same language and coming from the same cultural background, the better your chances of therapy being successful.

Trust is another huge factor – you must absolutely feel that you trust your therapist to respect your boundaries and protect your confidentiality.

Interview your therapist

It’s best to take some time to interview your therapist and ask them what sort of therapy they practice.  Tell him or her straight out: “this is my issue – how would you deal with it?”  If the response makes sense and sounds appealing to you, this is probably a good match.  If it raises concerns, talk about the concerns with your therapist and see if you can come to an agreement.   If not, you may need to look for someone else.  Make sure you’re clear about what you need help with and what your expectations are from therapy BEFORE ( you get involve in therapy schedule ) your first session, so you can properly evaluate whether this is the right therapist for you.

It can take two to three sessions before making a decision about whether it’s a good match or not, and the more clear and upfront you are about your goals and expectations, the quicker you’ll be able to evaluate the therapist and see if he or she is right for you.  If after three full sessions you still feel like your therapist doesn’t understand you, it’s time to find someone else.  And if you’re connecting and feel a real rapport, then go for it!

Like what you read?  Subscribe here for monthly updates on getting the most out of therapy and achieving a happy life.

Share with your friends on Facebook