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 youre 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 youll find
the therapist you need.
If you know where you want to go, its 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.
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.
Dont 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
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
understands or shares sexual orientation
understands or shares my ethnic identity
accepts my insurance
understands the stresses on parents and families
Next, use these spaces to answer the following questions
Is there anything else
that is important to me in a therapist?