Samantha Borrego MacCallon
How to Find the Right Therapist
You have decided to seek therapy services, and whether this is your first time or the fifth time, I am happy you are here.
Often, choosing to seek help is the first and most difficult step, but choosing the right therapist for you is essential and will greatly influence the progress you are able to make toward your goals.
Here are a few things to consider when searching for a therapist:
Payment Options: Lots of therapists are moving towards not accepting insurance so if you would like to use your insurance it is best to consult your provider directory.
Cultural Awareness: Take some time to review potential therapists’ websites. If they do not address cultural awareness you can ask them about it during your phone consultation (see below)
What Are Your Goals?: Search for therapists who can address your areas of concern. Therapists are not experts in everything, so make sure to choose one who can address your concerns and help you achieve your goals.
In-Person or Online?: Both have their pros and cons, so it’s important to consider how you would like to engage in therapy and what the availability is for in-person services.
Therapist Traits: What do you want in a therapist? If there’s a certain personality trait, approach to therapy, gender, age, background, etc. that you want in a therapist- that’s great! When looking for a therapist, you’re allowed to be picky.
Note: Most therapists will provide a free phone consultation to see if you will be a good fit. Take advantage of the opportunity to ask questions!
Possible Questions to ask a prospective therapist:
What is your training and education background?
Ideally, you therapist must have a Master’s or Doctorate degree in a mental health related field.
What kind of license do you have?
I would not recommend seeing a therapist that is not licensed. Licensure ensures certain education requirements as well as thousands of hours in practice/training.
Do you have experience or issues dealing with ______ (race, ethnicity, gender identity, religion, sexual orientation, LGBTQIA+, etc)?
If you need to discuss situations relating to gender identity, sexual orientation, ethnicity or race issues, you want to make sure the therapist can adequately address it without judgment.
What if we aren’t a good fit?
Sometimes clients continue seeing a therapist who is not a good fit for them for fear of offending the therapist, however sometimes this happens and it’s not necessarily a reflection of the therapist or the client. When interviewing a therapist, ask how they handle the situation so you don’t lose months of potential progress.
How do I know if therapy is working?
It is helpful to know what indicates therapy is working and asking this question helps to set expectations.
How long will therapy last?
Again this helps to set expectations. Though, they may not be able to give an exact time frame they should be able to provide a rough estimate based on your concerns and symptoms.
How long have you been practicing?
I would not immediately discount a therapist with less experience, especially if they meet all of your other criteria. However sometimes it can be reassuring to have a therapist with more experience.
How do you approach the therapy process?
This is a good open ended question that will provide information on how the therapist sees change and what sessions may look like over time.
Choosing the right therapist is a big decision. You may share things with your therapist that you have not shared with anyone else.
Take your time and be patient. It is so important that you feel safe to develop a trusting relationship with your therapist.
If you find after a few sessions that you have made the wrong choice, bring it up with your therapist to see if it can be resolved. If not, you may benefit from working with another therapist.
Remember, you’re in charge and if it is not working for you that’s okay.