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"The universe is so compassionate; it allows you to draw in what you need in order to heal yourself."
Oprah Winfrey
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How to Choose a Therapist Who is Right For You

If you've never been in therapy, it can seem frightening and even overwhelming. You should know that these are entirely normal feelings.

Choosing a therapist can also seem difficult, especially if you’re in a lot of pain. Finding the right therapist, however, is the most important step to success in counseling. The following are some basic tips to keep in mind to ensure you’ll find the therapist you need.

Get Clear

If you know where you want to go, it’s easier to get there. Define your problem and your hopes for therapy as clearly as you can. Write out your goals. If they don't come easily, clarifying them can become your first goal of therapy.

Ask Questions

Most all therapists will charge for the initial first sessions, so it can be costly to shop around. Your initial phone call, however, can give you a lot of information. Don’t hesitate to ask questions. Try these:

Do you have experience working with problems like mine?

  • How do you do therapy with people? What are your credentials?
  • How long have you been doing therapy?
  • Are you a psychiatrist, psychologist or social worker? What is the difference between these three?
  • What do you charge?
  • Do you accept my insurance?

Above All, Trust Your Feelings

All therapists are not created equal. Good therapy requires communication and trust between two people. You should feel that you are heard, understood and challenged. What feelings and thoughts did you have as you talked to the therapist on the phone? Was she responsive to you? Was he compassionate? Knowledgeable? Does your intuition say it was a good “fit” of personalities?

To help you begin to answer these questions for yourself, we have prepared a checklist of the items that many people find important when choosing a therapist. Check the answer that most pertains to you.  Print this page when you are finished.

I want to work with a therapist who...

is      a woman      a man      doesn't matter 

has a warm, sensitive style

has a confrontational style

has an analytical style

is experienced with issues of substance dependence

is experienced to work with "dysfunctional" families

understands or shares sexual orientation

understands or shares my ethnic identity

accepts my insurance

understands the stresses on parents and families today

Next, use these spaces to answer the following questions

Is there anything else that is important to me in a therapist?

What issues do I want to work on in therapy?