How to choose a therapist and determine the right match?

How To Find a Good Therapist Online

You are likely on the hunt for a therapist if you're reading this. If you are, you know how complex and challenging this process can be for a seasoned therapy user, especially for someone new to the process. Questions abound, like "how do I choose the right therapist? What is essential when choosing a personalized therapist? What should I ask a therapist when I meet with them? How long does therapy last? What's the standard pricing?

No worries, I'm here to help! Let me start with the basics. The first step you should take when choosing a therapist is to do some experiential and educational research. The research phase can entail the following:

  • Asking friends what they like about their therapist 
  • Asking friends for personal referrals - asking if they'd mind sharing their therapist's info (they may feel uncomfortable with this, so it's good to let them know that you understand if they don't want to share), 
  • Research different therapy modalities by asking friends and doing online searches - see what sounds exciting and inspiring or what is recommended for the issue you are trying to treat
  • Browse through directories like MonarchTherapy Den, or Psychology Today and make a list of therapists who seem interesting to you and are accepting new patients. These directories make it easy to contact therapists and schedule an initial consultation call.
  • If you already have some names - start calling the therapists and interviewing them on their 20-minute consult calls about how they work and the modalities they use. 

I advise people who contact me–friends, family, clients, and anyone who asks to talk to a few different people to understand different therapy types and styles as well as different personalities. Research shows that the most important thing when choosing a therapist is "fit," meaning how well you feel you connect with the therapist. Having a therapist that intimidates you intellectually with their prowess will not necessarily lead to therapeutic benefit. However, having someone who seems like they know what they are doing, who inspires you, and whom you innately feel you trust and respect will likely lead to therapeutic benefits for you. 

Most therapists offer a free 15-20 minute consultation call, which I mentioned above. This is an offering you should use to your advantage. Set up some consult calls with different therapists.

Here are some great questions to ask when choosing a therapist: 

  • What's your background - schooling, education, degree, or specialized training? 
  • What is your orientation? What therapy styles do you use, and how do you use them with clients? 
  • What are some things you see being useful in working with the issues I described? 
  • How frequently do you meet with clients, and what's the expected length of working with someone? What are the process of beginning therapy and ending therapy like? 
  • If insurance is a concern - do you accept or provide superbills for insurance? Why or why not? How does this process work?

Every therapist will have very different answers to these questions. Asking these questions and getting the answers will help you learn about the therapy process and give you a sense of how the therapist thinks about therapy, their style, how structured they are, their attention to detail, and what to expect in working with them. 

Now, in terms of choosing the right therapist, the main takeaways are to engage in the research process and interview a minimum of 2 therapists or more if you feel you need more than one of them. Once you feel you have a sense that someone "gets you" and has a method that could work for you, trust your intuition and take the leap. You can always choose to end therapy, which I recommend doing transparently by telling the therapist that something is feeling off for you and why. Therapists are trained not to take this personally and to give you the resources you need should something not feel like a good fit for you, which leads to one final oft-asked question when choosing a therapist: 

How long should you stay with the same therapist?

Short-term therapy goals with a short-term therapy approach can be completed in as few as 12 sessions. However, in non-short-term approaches, the answer varies. For many therapists, clients will tend to stay for a minimum of a year, but some will prefer ongoing life support. Some have been with me since my private practice opened in 2015. The length of therapy can be an ongoing conversation with your therapist based on whether you have met your goals. If so, you and your therapist can explore questions like - what is the benefit of staying in therapy versus terminating (or ending) the therapeutic relationship and working with someone else or in a different healing modality? These are determined individually and should be answered best with the help of a qualified therapist. 

The same advice goes for couples therapy, couples counselling, or marriage therapy. The main difference will be that there are two of you in the initial interviews, calls, and meetings, so you may have different preferences in terms of style and fit that you will need to discuss with your partner before choosing a therapist. 

I hope this advice clarifies. Please reach out for more information or if you are interested in discussing our working style. Lovewell clinicians use a medium-term, compassionate, mindful, direct, and structured approach to therapy, with clients generally staying a minimum of 1-2 years. We follow a structured intake process, collaboratively determine goals, and meet weekly with clients until their goals have been realized and maintained. We are happy to discuss if our style would be a fit for your needs. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Q. Why is it so hard to find a good therapist?

A. There are a couple of reasons why it is so difficult to find a good therapist. One of them is that people who need therapy don’t always know where to go, they might not have the money, or they might be too embarrassed to admit that they need help. Another reason is that there is not enough education about how to interview and find the right fit therapist.

Q.  How do I choose the right therapist?

A. The most important thing to do is to find the right therapist for you. This means finding a therapist who inspires you and perhaps shares your perspective on certain issues, such as religion or gender identification. You also want to find a therapist with whom you feel comfortable sharing your thoughts and feelings openly, and who provides what you need - whether that is challenging you, offering direct feedback, providing skills or resources, or acting as an empathic ear and a reflective mirror. 

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