How can I find a therapist who is a good fit for me?
Psychotherapy requires a very personal connection with a therapist, and it’s not uncommon to go through a trial-and-error process to find a provider who is a good “fit” for you/your loved one. The important thing is to find one that you/your loved one trusts, where you feel “heard” by the therapist. In the meantime, you may want to consider the following tips for finding a psychotherapist who is a good “fit”:
Think about your goals for therapy. Like doctors, therapists have specialties, so you may wish to find one who knows about your specific condition.Some concerns, like stress and self-esteem, may not require your therapist to have as much specialized training, whereas other conditions like PTSD may benefit from it.
Ask a few questions. Getting some information upfront can help you figure out if a therapist is a “fit” for you. Some possible questions to ask a potential therapist include:
- What education, license and specialty certifications do you have?
- What kind of therapy do you practice? What is your approach to treatment?
- Have you worked with people similar to me? For how long?
- How will we work together to set goals and assess my progress?
Consider cultural competence.Many people find it easier to open up with people who “get” their experiences. While all therapists are trained in empathy, having a therapist who is part of your community, or who has experience working with people from your community, can make a difference.Here are a few factors you might consider:
- Gender identity
- Racial or cultural background, such as a therapist who is themselves or explicitly welcomes clients who are from Black, Indigenous, or People of Color (BIPOC) communities
- Specialization in LGBTQI issues
- Religious affiliations
Check in with yourself. Give some thought to what you’re looking for in a clinician. Some people prefer a therapist who does a lot of listening; others are looking for a more active approach that includes coping skills and feedback. Be aware of how it feels talking to a potential therapist and whether you feel heard and understood.
Assess the relationship “fit”. After the first few appointments, it is important to consider whether you connect with your therapist. Some possible questions to consider:
- Do you feel comfortable talking to them?
- Do you feel supported and hopeful after sessions?
- Do you feel like you can express what is important to you?
- Do you feel an increasing sense of positive change in your life?
Expect to try a few. Finding someone you click with can take some trial and error. Trying out several therapists is a normal part of the process for many people.With a little persistence, you'll find a therapist who will listen to you, take your perspective into consideration and work with you to improve your sense of wellbeing.