What makes the best fit with a therapist or psychologist?

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A therapist is a great fit for you if you feel like they are capable, trustworthy, and safe. You should look forward to going to therapy and learning more about yourself.

Searching for a therapist can take some time and effort, so here are some criteria to look for that help create a good fit with your mental health provider:

  • Competence. Does the mental health therapist have experience with your specific need or mental health problem? For example, if you’re dealing with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), you’ll want a therapist who is trauma-informed and knows how to treat PTSD. 
  • Empowerment. Therapy works best when you do the work. Your therapist should be empowering you to do the work necessary to change your life. 
  • Accommodations. If you have physical or mental health needs that need accommodation, your therapist should be able to make a comfortable and accessible environment for you.
  • Healthy boundaries. Therapy is your time. Your therapist should not be oversharing about their lives. They should also be respectful of your privacy and confidentiality — you should be able to trust them. Your relationship should also remain professional. This should not be a burgeoning friendship or romantic relationship.
  • Therapeutic approach. Your therapist should take into consideration your history and background, as well as what’s going on in your current experience and inner world. Different therapy modalities have different aims and goals. For example, you may be more inclined to use art in therapy and thus you’ll want someone who specializes as an art therapist.
  • Likability. You should like going to therapy and meeting with your therapist. If you often feel worse after therapy — if you feel unheard, judged, or shamed — then you should let your therapist know and start searching for another therapist.
  • Communication. Your therapist should be a good listener and be appropriately open and honest with you. You should be able to ask them questions about their professional background, about how they feel like the therapy sessions are going, or what they are observing about you. And your therapist should ask you about how you feel about therapy, especially in the first few sessions. You should feel that you can be open and honest with your mental health therapist.

Take this free quiz from Mental Health Match to get matched to your ideal mental health counselor.