By Stephanie Camins – MA, LPC
How to Choose a Therapist
Choosing a therapist can be a daunting task. Here are a few points to remember to help make the process a bit easier.
Taking that first step to reach out for the support of a therapist is no easy feat. Like any relationship, rapport and trust are essential in the therapeutic relationship. One of the most important factors in choosing a therapist is whether or not you get along.
It is important to choose a therapist who is a good match for you. This is a very personal decision. Even the most professionally respected therapist in the world will not be a good match for everyone. Remember that different people work together in different ways. You should feel comfortable with the style of your therapist. Sometimes it takes a few “tries” to find a good match. It is OK to shop around until you find the right therapist for you.
Feel free to interview a prospective therapist, asking questions about their style of therapy and training, fee structure, cancellation policy, insurance reimbursement, how long they have been in practice, and if they are familiar working with the kinds of issues you want to work on in therapy.
Expect and demand ethical practices, including issues of confidentiality. Be sure to ask about the therapist’s license. While not all therapists are required to have licenses by all states, and while licensure is no guarantee of quality, it is useful for you to know that a person receiving a state license has met the requirements for education and training mandated by your state.
Some Questions To Ask Yourself When Choosing a Therapist:
- Is the therapist warm and accepting?
- Does the therapist have a sense of humor?
- Is the therapist willing to challenge you when necessary?
- Does the therapist seem emotionally healthy and seem to feel at ease? (in other words, does not seem anxious, arrogant or depressed)
- Does the therapist accept and encourage the idea that clients are entitled to shop around for a therapist before they commit?
- Does the therapist accept the idea that consultation or second opinions may be helpful in the course of therapy?
- Does the therapist let you explain your problems without prematurely trying to fit you into a preconceived box?
- Does the therapist have more than one clinical orientation and can fit their approach to your specific problems?
- Does the therapist present you with clear office policies, including the limits of confidentiality, client’s rights, etc?
- Does the therapist seem flexible in many ways but still able to maintain clear boundaries?
- Does the therapist communicate well with parents when treating children and adolescents?
- Does the therapist seem to be able to balance the need to respect an adolescents privacy while keeping the parents informed?
- Is the therapist flexible about who can be a part of therapy? (at times, it is helpful to bring your friend/partner, child or parent with you to therapy)
- Does the therapist conduct regular evaluations of progress in therapy, including the discussion of treatment plans?
- Does the therapist listen to your assessment of what is helpful and what is not during the course of therapy?
Remember that therapy, in the hands of a skilled therapist, is a powerful and life changing experience. It has been shown to be effective for a variety of illnesses and problems. If you need therapy and work as an active participant in your own treatment, you can expect it will be well worth the time and money you invest.