How to Choose the Best Psychotherapist for You

Guidelines for finding and keeping a therapist.

Key Points

  • Asking the therapist questions to ensure a good fit is important even before starting therapy.
  • Finding the right psychotherapist is a personal process and absolutely worthwhile.
  • Effective therapists empower clients to solve their own issues.
  • These specific considerations can guide the client’s search in finding the best therapist for them.

When you need psychological and mental help to work through feelings or problems that seem overwhelming, the list below can help you choose a psychotherapist. It would also be helpful to assess the ability of the therapist to meet your needs and provide effective counseling treatment.

Here’s what to consider when making the choice. Find a therapist who…

Makes you feel comfortable

The right match is critical. You have to find a good match for your personality. Find a therapist with whom you feel comfortable and at ease. The therapist should be warm and accepting while creating a nurturing and safe environment for therapy, yet they must be willing to challenge you when necessary.

Is professional and experienced

A therapist should be educated, competent, and an expert in the field(s) that are relevant to your situation. You should be informed and confident about the qualifications of your therapist. Also, they must act in a professional manner. If a therapist breaks appointments often, arrives late, or allows interruptions, consider leaving the therapist.

Is available for a phone interview

Before a first meeting, ask for a 15-minute phone conversation so that you can interview the therapist and get a sense of their style and your connection. The therapist should accept that clients are entitled to shop around before committing to any therapist.

Accepts you

A good therapist should accept and respect you as an individual, including your background, beliefs, and opinions. The therapist should always be respectful and decent and never condescending. A non-judgmental attitude is key to the success of the therapy.

Can be trusted

A therapist should be someone you have a rapport with and can trust. If you cannot be vulnerable and open with your therapist, then you will not get the help you need and the results you want.

Is not eager to please

The therapist should not diagnose you prematurely. They should allow you to explain your problems, understand the context, and patiently listen to what you have to say. Also, a therapist shouldn’t be too eager to please. Instead, the therapist should challenge the client and be proactive.

Does not guarantee results

Regardless of the best effort put forth by the therapist and the client, no one can guarantee results. So, be careful when a therapist promises you results. However, if you don’t see or feel some change after a few months, consider replacing your therapist.

Empowers you

Successful therapy doesn’t solve problems; it empowers you to solve your own. Like the old proverb, the best counseling is most effective when it helps clients learn to fish for themselves rather than rely on another to feed them. Psychotherapists must encourage you to access your own resources and build skills and resiliency to become independent and resourceful.

Has a customized and flexible approach

Each client is different. Accordingly, therapists should be flexible in their clinical orientation and fit their model to the client’s specific problems and needs instead of imposing a single approach on all patients. A good therapist begins with the needs and goals of the client and then moves forward to find the appropriate intervention.

Is confident and emotionally healthy

A therapist should feel comfortable with themself and not seem anxious, arrogant, or depressed. Look for someone who appears confident and is relaxed.

Provides therapeutic guidelines

A therapist should provide you with a clear policy and guidelines, including confidentiality, a consent form, clients’ rights, etc. It is important to clarify expectations and understand the process.

Is proactive and engaged

A therapist who is too silent or too talkative will not be a good fit for most people. If the therapist does not promote interactive dialogue, does not answer most questions, or pretends to be a “blank screen,” consider changing your therapist.

Provides assignments

Successful therapy relies on using assignments outside of sessions to reinforce learning and practice newly acquired skills in real-world settings. As such, the therapist should provide assignments from time to time to reinforce the therapy process.

Addresses present challenges

While it is important to discuss the dynamics of the family of origin, childhood background, and other relevant history of the client, the therapist must help the client deal with real-present life challenges.

Doesn’t make decisions for you

A therapist should not make decisions for the clients. A therapist’s role is to empower the clients and guide them to make decisions for themselves. The therapist should provide clients with the skills and the process to understand their situation, the options available, and their consequences to allow for the best decision.

Is collaborative and open to feedback

Therapy is a collaboration. By working together as partners in the therapeutic relationship, clients are able to engage in meaningful conversation about what they want to change. The therapist should be open to feedback from the client regarding the therapy process and adjust the intervention accordingly.

Is authentic and client-centered

A therapist is expected to be authentic and real while keeping in mind that the therapy is about the client. A therapist who reveals too much or irrelevant information about themselves is taking the therapy away from being productive.

Maintains healthy boundaries

It is essential to maintain clear boundaries. Any sexual relationship is malpractice. Business offers are not permitted. If you feel something is wrong with the relationship or if you feel exploited in any way, seriously consider leaving the therapist.

Conducts ongoing evaluations

Assessments of therapy allow for a counselor to know where their client is in the process and judge their progress. Therapists should conduct regular evaluations, seek the client’s opinion regarding the progress of the therapy, and revise their intervention accordingly.

Finding the right therapist can feel overwhelming and frustrating at times. Remember that it is a personal process and absolutely worthwhile. It’s critical that you feel safe and comfortable with the therapist, and factors like personality compatibility and rapport can play a significant role in the effectiveness of therapy.


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