When it comes to starting the journey of taking your mental health seriously, one of the first important decisions you’ll have to make is choosing a therapist. 

With so many different types of therapy, therapy platforms, and specializations out there, how do you find a therapist that is right for you?

Whether you’re seeking therapy to heal and understand your inner self, or recover from a traumatic event, choosing a therapist that is not only effective and successful but that meets your needs, is trustworthy, and values your privacy, is crucial. 

So, how do you go about finding a “good” therapist?

Well, there’s the act of simply searching for therapy practices in your city. Then, once this part is done, there are a few things to keep in mind in order to ensure your therapist will be a good fit for you.

Let’s talk about how to find a therapist, and what aspects to look for once you’ve chosen one.

Finding A Therapist:

When it comes to the act of simply finding a therapist, there are a few resources out there to help you navigate these waters. 

1. Consult With Your Insurance Provider: 

If you’re planning on covering some of your mental health services through your insurance plan, you’ll want to contact them to get a list of which practices are in-network. Keep in mind, that some insurance plans only cover a set number of sessions, so it’s important to find this information out as well. If you find an out-of-network therapist you’ll want to consult with your insurance provider about how this will affect your out-of-pocket expenses. 

2. Ask Trustworthy Sources:

Consulting with close family or friends that have seen a therapist before, or even asking your doctor for a recommendation are two ways to gain social proof of a therapist’s validity. While your friends and family may know you the best, keep in mind you may have different needs than they did, so what worked for one person may not work for you. 

3. Research Therapy Practices According To Your Need:

One of the best places to start to ensure your needs are being met is to find therapists that specialize in what you’re seeking treatment for. While there are general therapists out there, they may not be as well informed on how to manage certain aspects of your care. If you want to get the most up-to-date techniques and practices, find a therapist that works within the scope of your need. 

4. Write Down Goals Ahead Of Time:

By understanding what exactly is the most important goal you want to accomplish through therapy, you can then find a therapist to match that. Many researchers have found that when a therapist and client are both working towards the same goals, the outcome is much more successful. For example, If you want to meet others with similar trauma as you, then look for a therapist that specializes in running support groups. 

5. Ask questions!

When talking with a potential therapist you want to ask questions that eliminate the possibility of it not working out halfway through your treatment plan. Having all the information you need to make a sound, informed decision is incredibly important and can minimize any future clashes. 

A few questions that are helpful to ask are:

  • How much experience do you have with clients that ____ (insert your need here)?
  • What is your area of expertise?
  • What kinds of treatments do you use to solve ______ (insert your need here)?
  • If I need medication, are you able to prescribe it?
  • Do you have access to telehealth sessions?

Once You’ve Chosen A Therapist:

Once you’ve climbed through all the hoops, and your therapy has begun, there are a few key attributes to keep in mind when deciding if your therapist is a good fit for you. 

Here are a few signs that your therapist is the right fit for you:

  • They Listen: Actively listening means not being distracted, making eye contact, facial expressions, and maintaining a welcoming posture. Listening is more than just hearing, it’s understanding what you’re saying. 
  • You Are Validated: A professional therapist should never make any statements of judgment towards you but instead, acknowledge that your actions and emotions are the truth of how you experienced an event.
  • Have Your Best Interest In Mind: A good therapist will always keep your best intentions at the forefront of treatment. By offering resources and recommendations to enable you to make the best decisions for your treatment, your therapist will be able to accept any decisions you make, even if it isn’t in their own best interest. 
  • You Understand Them: Being a therapist is all about listening, and speaking. However, the difference between a good and a great therapist is that a great therapist serves as an educator. A therapist with strong communication skills should be able to explain concepts to you in a way you understand. 
  • You Should See Change: One of the easiest ways to tell if you and your therapist are a good fit, is through inner changes. Keep in mind, that therapy is a marathon, not a sprint. For many people, it takes 3 to 5 months of weekly sessions to see major changes within themselves. 

Find A Therapist That Is Your Ally:

A therapist is not there to act as your best friend or your mother. A good, well-fitted therapist should serve as your ally. This means your therapist is trustworthy and dependable to team up with you during life’s greatest struggles. 

Finding a therapist you can connect with, understand, and can challenge you to become a better version of yourself will undoubtedly change your life.