Updated: May 3, 2019
You’ve made the decision to start going to therapy and now comes the important steps of selecting the right therapist for your needs. Psychologists, psychotherapists, and general therapists have the joint goal of helping those who are experiencing major life stressors and mental illness to lead happier, more fulfilling, and more productive lives.
With so many therapist ready to provide a safe and supportive environment for your growth, how do you choose the right therapist for your needs? What questions do you ask and what considerations can you make when selecting therapist? Here are a few points to explore when making your decision.
Use a Therapist Directory
Directory sites such as Psychology Today, Therapy for Black Girls, and GoodTherapy are a great place to start your search for a therapist. You can search for therapists in your area and review the types of therapy they provide (individual, family, groups, etc.), the ages they work with, the concerns they address (anxiety, depression, women’s issues, divorce), and their therapeutic approach. You can review a brief summary about each therapist, which can help identify therapists that address your needs and interests.
Ask a Friend
If you have local friends or family members that are in therapy, ask them for a referral list
from their therapist. Therapists have a network of colleagues and they will gladly provide
the contact information for other therapists that can help address your specific needs.
Therapists can also provide the contact information for institutes and community centers
that may be a good fit for your needs.
Once you find a couple therapists that you’re interested in working with, review their
website or speak with them about how they accept payment for sessions. Do they
accept insurance, if so, which companies? Do they not accept insurance and are
cash-only? Do they offer a sliding-scale fee? The price per session will vary between
therapists and you want to ensure you pair with a provider that will align with your
Take Advantage of the Free Consultation
Most therapists offer a free 15 or 30-minute phone consultation where you can ask questions about therapy and see if the therapist is able to address your specific needs. The consultation is not a mini therapy session. Use the time to ask questions about what sessions are like, their areas of expertise, their fees, and discuss your goals for seeking therapy and what you hope to accomplish. Based on the consultation, you can both see if it will be a good fit.
5) Verify their Therapeutic Approach
The Therapeutic Approach or Theoretical Orientation describes the researched-based theories a therapist may subscribe to and use to address a client’s problem. You may see on a therapist’s website that they use a “cognitive-behavioral” or “psychodynamic” approach, which describes some of goals, skills, and interventions they will use during session. Many therapists have an “eclectic” orientation, and use a variety of skills to meet the specific needs of their clients. During your phone consultation, ask the therapist which therapeutic approach they primarily use and they can provide additional information about it to see if it will fit with your personality, needs, and therapy goals.