What should I look for in a therapist?
There are five criteria you should consider when looking for a counselor or therapist: competence, cultural fit, personality, convenience, and affordability:
- Competence. You want a therapist who is has experience treating specific mental health problems you are experiencing. If you’re having marriage troubles, you’ll want to find a marriage counselor or therapist. If you have PTSD, you’ll want to find someone who specializes in treating trauma or that specific disorder.
- Cultural fit. When you’re in therapy, it can be helpful to talk to someone who has had similar life experiences or a similar background. Cultural fit can be based on various types of demographics including: gender, sexual orientation, race, ethnic background, and religion – as well as people who might have similar experiences as you (such a a veteran or a parent).
- Personality. You may want a therapist who is nurturing and validating. Or you may want a therapist who will challenge you. Finding a therapist is a lot like dating; ultimately you are looking for someone you “click” with.
- Convenience. You can find therapists that are close by your home or office. Many therapists have typical business hours, but maybe if they’re close to work, you can see them during your lunch hour. Some therapists have evening or weekend hours so you can see them after work. Your therapist may provide remote therapy, where you can have sessions in the comfort of your home via videoconferencing.
- Affordability. Many therapists work with your health insurance so you’ll have a nominal copay or coinsurance. Other therapists have sliding scales based on your income.