Choosing a Therapist

How do you go about finding the right therapist for you?

Not every therapist is a good fit for every client.  A psychotherapist can be smart, insightful, and warm;  a client can be ready and motivated to begin therapy. Yet, it may not be a good enough match to become a productive relationship.

It can always be a helpful start to receive a recommendation from a friend , family member or other professional.  However, even in that case, searching for a therapist is an excellent time to ‘trust your gut.’ 

 Often your first contact with a psychotherapist will be a voice message.  There are lots of things you can learn from that experience.  Was the voice warm and friendly, yet professional?  Was the message uncomplicated and straight forward?  Was that mini-event inviting or intimidating?  Is  that a voice you can listen to? Trust your intuition.

After your phone conversation, you should know the cost and length of the sessions and the answers to your most immediate concerns.  Ten minutes or so would be a reasonable amount of time on the phone.

It is understandable that most people have a certain amount of anxiety when they arrive for their first session.  Any new situation can have a stressful impact on us.  Zero anxiety may mean that, for whatever reason, we aren't connecting to the experience.  An overload of anxiety will prevent us from being fully present in the room.  Regular butterflies in the stomach is to be expected.  Remember, you are the consumer. You are here to check out this therapist.  If it doesn't feel like a fit, then you may choose to move on after one or two sessions and continue to search for another therapist.

As the session proceeds, check to see if you gradually feel more comfortable with this person.  For therapy to be productive, there must eventually be a solid relationship between the therapist and client.  In order for that bond to develop, there needs to be a deep sense of trust, caring, absolute non-judgment, and accurate empathy.  Clearly all this cannot be achieved in the first session, but there should be hints that things will go in that direction.  Did you feel understood?  Did you have the complete attention of the therapist?  Did he or she remember what you have said?

Returning to your car, did you feel some relief?  Did it feel like there would now be a place to go to share the weight of your problems with a person who could help you sort them out?  No one knows what is right for you.  That kind of knowing is deep inside you.  Can this therapist help you find it?