How to find a therapist

Many people think about starting therapy and it is not uncommon to feel anxiety about the process, which can be daunting. Research says that having a solid relationship of trust between a client and her therapist is the highest predictor of good therapy outcomes, so making a careful decision can be worth the effort.

Here are five tips to finding the right therapist for you:

#1—Ask someone you trust

One of the number one ways people find a therapist is through their social networks—through people they know. Trusted friends, family members and coworkers can be a very good place to start. Church, community leaders, doctors and other medical providers get asked regularly for referrals for mental health providers. Word of mouth can be informed by actual experience with therapists, which can make these refers invaluable.

#2—Look online

Another top way of finding a therapist is online. Google search, Facebook business sites, psychologytoday.com, goodtherapy.com, onlinecounseling.com and others list many well qualified therapists. As well, groups such as professional organizations and insurance companies often have online listings of therapists.

#3—Ask for a phone or in person consultation

Many therapists offer at no charge a phone or sometimes in person consultation in which you can check out your potential therapist. Many people find this very useful. It can give you the chance to ask questions you may have and to get the feel of the therapist.

#4—Ask if they have benefited from the type of therapy they provide

Bessell van der Kolk, in his recent book about treatment for trauma, The Body Keeps the Score, suggests asking your potential therapist if they have benefited from the type of therapy they deliver. While it may be inappropriate for a potential therapist to share certain personal life details, talking about the experience and training of the therapist is normal and useful to making an informed decision.

#5—Trust yourself

Once you get a feeling of a potential therapist it is generally a good idea to trust yourself. How do you feel about the person? How does it feel to talk with them and to sit with them (or talk with them on the phone)? If you have a good feeling, even if you don’t know how they will help you exactly, you might consider hiring this therapist to help you with the issues you want to tackle. As well, if you get an uneasy vibe, I encourage you to trust that as well and to keep looking. An investment in therapy is potentially a big commitment of a portion of your life (plus time and money), and finding a comfortable fit is crucial. And if you look elsewhere, don’t stop to you find the right fit.

Finally, what is the value to you of getting therapy to help make desired lifestyle change? Keeping this in mind can be helpful as you go through the process of finding a therapist.

Good luck!