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How do I choose a therapist?

If you have made the decision to look for professional help you are beginning a journey that takes courage. Even looking for a therapist is an unfamiliar task for most people, and it can be a frightening thing to do. In fact, it can be very uncomfortable for almost anyone.


So where do you start? Ask around and get some feedback from others. Talk to your physician or lawyer, or a friend who has been in therapy for a situation similar to yours. Ask your pastor for a suggestion, or call a national association or a local support group that specializes in your area of concern. Google your area of need on the internet and add the word "psychotherapy." Try to get several names. Particularly look for names that come up more than once.


It is important to look for a therapist who is familiar with your area of concern. Go for a consultation and ask about the help you might need. Make a point of clarifying any questions you have about the therapist. Ask him about his training, or ask her if she is experienced with your type of difficulty. Ask directly about fees, how she might go about helping someone with your problem. Ask about specialty areas.


Ask yourself if the therapist seemed to pay attention to what you say. Does he answer your questions or beat around the bush? Does he seem at ease with you? Do you seem at ease with him? Look until you find a therapist in whom you feel confident. This is important.


Seek therapy that is within your financial means so that you will not have to quit prematurely. Good therapy can sometimes be found at community mental health centers, where fees tend to be lower than in the private sector. However, many community mental health centers are overloaded with work, and you may have be willing to wait for a therapist to become available.


Paying a high fee is no guarantee that you will receive good help, but if you do have to pay a high fee to get the help you need, then it is worth it. A good therapist can help you do lots of good work between sessions to shorten the number of sessions needed. Also, many people improve their effectiveness at work because of therapy to the point that they earn quicker promotions or find the courage to find a better paying job, eventually earning back the money they paid for psychotherapy.