How to Choose the Best Therapist for You

Once you make the decision to start counseling, it can be an overwhelming or confusing time to then try to find a therapist that is right for you. There are many different degrees and titles attached to different types of therapists…and not all therapists are trained in the same things.

You may not want to trust just anyone to be your guide toward healing and growth. There will never be the “perfect” therapist to guide you. However, there will be a helpful and safe therapist out there for you. You just have to know what factors to look for when deciding who to go to. 

Therapy Credentials: What Does it All Mean?

The first and one of the most important factors in choosing a therapist is ensuring that they are licensed by the state in which you are seeing them. This is a way to guarantee that the person you are seeing has all the training they need to be a competent and ethical therapist.

Just like you would want a medical doctor to be licensed when you see them, the same goes for those professionals involved in treating mental health.

Types of professional licenses when looking for a therapist:

  • Licensed Professional Counselors (LPCs)
  • Provisionally Licensed Professional Counselors (PLPC)
  • Licensed Mental Health Counselors (LMHCs)
  • Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists (LMFTs)
  • Licensed Clinical Social Workers (LCSWs)
  • Psychologists (PhDs or PsyDs)
  • Psychiatrists (MDs or DOs)

LPCs, PLPCs, LMHCs, LMFTs, and some LCSWs are the types of therapists whom you come to their office and talk to once a week for an hour.

Psychologists and Psychiatrists pertain more to the medical side of mental health.

Therapy Specialties

After confirming that the potential therapist is licensed you can look to see what types of clients they see. Therapists work with families, couples, children, or individuals. Some might specialize in trauma, addiction, eating disorders, boundaries, ADHD, depression, anxiety, OCD, etc.

If you know what types of situations you want to work through, picking someone who states they have worked it in the past can get you closer to the help you want. Another area to pay attention to is if you want a therapist of a certain gender, race, ethnicity, religion, or sexuality.  Or you may want to know if someone has worked with specific populations or groups like LGBTQ+. 

Therapy Barriers

Lastly, things like insurance, money, time, availability, or location of services can be barriers to reaching the help we want so make sure to take those into consideration as you begin your search for a therapist.

If you have insurance, seeing who is in your network can be a helpful place to start. If you have time restrictions or live in a more rural area you could look into who provides online or telehealth services.

After those factors have been considered and thought through we can then go try out who fits those categories.

Questions to Ask When Seeking a Therapist

Here are some simple questions and reminders about therapy to help you further answer if the therapist you are thinking of seeing or are currently seeing is right for you.

  • Do you feel safe with your therapist? Do they seem authentic or scripted?
  • Did your therapist listen well to you? Or did they interrupt you or share too much about themselves?
  • Do you feel confident in their training to help you?
  • How did you feel with them?
  • It’s normal to feel nervous or unsure at first with a therapist. It’s a different kind of relationship than most but you still need to build up rapport together. 
  •  Not every therapist fits every client and that is okay! If you notice you and your therapist  are not clicking well, any good therapist will understand and want you to find someone who fits well with you. 
  • Therapy is not a one and done situation, it may take upwards of six months  to feel or see a difference in your life. So patience with yourself and the process is needed. 
  • Healing is not linear so if you are feeling better and then things seem hard again, that is to be expected. 
  • Being active in your therapy process is a game changer. The work you do outside of session with what you learn each week is really important. 

Call today and schedule an appointment with one of our counselors. 

written by Catherine Johnson, PLPC

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