How do I know if a therapist is right for me?
There are three things you should feel if your therapist is right for you: safety, competence, and a sense of connection.
- Safety — You should feel like you can be yourself and honest. Your therapist should create a judgment-free zone where you can freely express what you feel and think. Your therapist should be able to meet you where you’re at in your life and help you to grow and heal without criticism or shame.
- Competence — Your mental health therapist should have the necessary skills, experience, and expertise to assist you in your needs. For example, if you’re dealing with depression, you’ll want to find a therapist that specializes in treating depression. Most therapists will have at least a master’s degree in therapy, counseling, psychology, or social work and will be licensed by the state, meaning they’ve gone through the necessary supervised experience and educational requirements to see clients on their own.
- Sense of connection — You should enjoy talking with your counselor and have a good back and forth in your conversations. You should also feel like your therapist supports you and cares for your wellbeing. Your therapist should feel like a trusted ally and advisor, someone you look forward to seeing.
After you’ve done your research to find a therapist, you may go to your first session with your new therapist and it may not feel right. Here are some ideas to think about as you determine if your current mental health therapist is right for you.
- Give your therapist three tries. Usually, it takes at least three sessions before you start to understand how your therapist can impact your life. It is important to remember that when you meet people, first impressions are important and lasting. It’s the same with therapy — you’re getting to know each other. The first session can involve some housekeeping before you dive into your session. At first, it may feel awkward to be in a therapist’s office or to reveal your thoughts, so give yourself time to get used to the experience.
- Listen to your gut. You may feel unsettled or that something is off when you’re in therapy. If that happens, don’t ignore that feeling. Listen to yourself and talk to your therapist about it. It could be that they aren’t the right fit. If that’s the case, let them know and try to explain what you’re feeling. If you’re feeling unheard or you feel like you’ve been shamed, definitely let your therapist know. Your therapist may be able to accommodate your needs. If your needs can’t be accommodated, you can part ways in a healthy and therapeutic way.
- Searching for a therapist is like dating. There are plenty of qualified and compassionate counselors and therapists that look forward to helping you. But it may take some time to find the right one — just like it is with dating. So give yourself time to search and explore. You can look at their websites or profiles on Mental Health Match, read their blogs and social media posts, and/or talk to them on the phone for a few minutes to help you in your decision.
Mental Health Match knows how important it is to find the right therapist, so through our free quiz, we help match you to therapists who are qualified to meet your specific needs — try it out today!