How To Find The Right Therapist
Updated: Jun 23
This is a big question. What I’ve seen time and time again, and have personally experienced, is that people struggle with this one. Firstly, it isn’t easy for people to come to a place where they recognize the potential benefits of therapy for them. Sometimes this is because of the family or social culture they come from, or it could be because of a previous negative or unhelpful experience of therapy in the past. Maybe they’ve heard horror stories from friends or loved ones. Whatever the reason, this tends to be a big first hurdle. Then you overcome this hurdle and tell yourself it may be nice to have someone to support you through your current struggle, now what? How does one go about finding themselves a therapist? Do you ask family or friends, or do you turn to the trusty internet? On the one hand it may be nice to have a personal referral, but on the other is weird to see the same therapist as your friend? And if you turn to the internet how do you sort through all the clutter? What does it mean when a therapist says they are a trauma therapist or use eclectic approaches? It can feel like you have more questions than answers. And THEN (if you get this far) you finally choose a therapist, and you have your first session or two, and you feel like things aren’t jiving and maybe you decide therapy isn’t for you after all and you’re back to square one. Yikes.
Here are some helpful tips for finding a therapist that is right for you:
1. Consider whether you are looking for virtual or in-person therapy.
Virtual therapy is a wonderful option for those who would like for their appointments to fit into their busy schedules a bit easier as it allows for more flexibility. You also have the potential to match with a therapist more suited to your needs if you aren’t limited by geography. That said, there is something lovely about being face-to-face with your therapist in the safety of their office, away from the rest of your responsibilities and stressors.
2. Consider what is important to you when working with someone.
Some people prefer to work with a younger therapist that they feel will understand them better, or maybe on the flip side you’re looking for a seasoned and experienced therapist. Are you more comfortable with a male or female? Do you want their office to have free parking? Do you need nighttime or early morning appointments? Do you want someone who offers a specific type of therapy? A lot of these questions can be answered before you book your first appointment, and most therapists offer a free 15-minute consult call if you have specific questions before you commit to booking a therapy session.
3. Ask friends about their experiences.
See what they found helpful and unhelpful. It doesn’t mean that your experiences will be the same, but it helps to know what to expect, especially if this is your first try at therapy.
4. Listen to your gut.
If you make a consult call and speak with a therapist, or if a family member books an appointment for you but you don’t feel good about the therapist, trust your gut. Your relationship with your therapist is central to achieving good outcomes in therapy so if you don’t feel good about it, best to continue the search. To be clear, it is normal to feel some anxiety before a therapy appointment in general, but if things feel off, it’s ok to trust your gut. It doesn’t mean the therapist sucks, they just may not be the best for you.
5. Talk to your therapist.
Say you start therapy and things are feeling ok but you have some concerns. Tell your therapist. They WANT to know! I always tell my clients they cannot offend me. If there is something about my style or approach that doesn’t work for them, I want to know so I can adapt. I tell my clients that I can adapt within a certain range while still being authentic, and if they need something outside of that I would be happy to help them find someone that feels like a better fit. This is your journey, you’re here because you want to feel better, and your therapist wants to help you get there even if they can’t be the one to get you there.
As a final note, sometimes you do some great work with a therapist and find you need to move on anyway for the next stages of your work. You don’t owe your therapist anything. We do think about our clients and wonder how they’re doing, but most of all we are thankful that we get to be a part of your journey.