Picking a Therapist

Sep 28, 2014 | Articles

I have been a therapist for the past 30 or so years and the one question that comes up a lot is:

How do you pick a therapist?”

My answer is simple, has many years of experience behind it and to the point:

Picking a therapist is like buying a new pair of new jeans, you just have to find the one that fits you best.

I can’t tell you how many times people call in to our office and ask for me or my partner to see them, their son or daughter or partner. I always ask them what they are looking for and if they prefer a male or female therapist. Many comment on the fact that they have a choice. I always answer the same thing, “yes you need to have a choice and you need to be good with who you see.”
So, how do you find out if the therapist “fits?”

There are some fundamental questions you should have any therapist answer:

  1. Are they accredited and are they in good standing with their regulatory body i.e., for Social Workers it is the College of Social Work and the therapist will have an RSW behind their name.
  2. How many years have they been doing their work and is their experience a match to your need.
  3. Is there approach sensitive to cultural and sexual orientation needs?
  4. What are their fee and payment options?
  5. Do they have the availability to see you in a reasonable timeframe and session frequency?

Now that we have an idea about the initial questions to ask, let’s look at the fit:

Like a pair of jeans, try them on for size. That is meet with the therapist and get a feel for him or her, their surroundings and general sense of who they are.

Look for:

  • Their approach – are they open and engaging of you.
  • Do you feel listened to?
  • Do you feel respected?
  • Do you feel the time was useful and that something was achieved – in short do you feel better having spent some time with them?
  • Finally, were they worth the investment of your time and money?
  1. If so – see them again.
  2. If not, ask for someone else to see. Do not worry about the therapist or his or her feelings about changing as they should be solid enough to focus on you and facilitate someone else.

So there you have it, find a therapist that feels as good as your favorite pair of jeans and be well.