How Do I Know if a Therapist is Right for Me?

4 minutes Written by Mental Health Match & Reviewed by C. Adamo, PhD

There are three main considerations when it comes to knowing if a therapist is right: expertise, cultural fit and connection. It’s important to find a therapist whose clinical skills and experience match your therapeutic needs. A therapist’s ability to connect with you is the main indicator of a successful therapy relationship.

Therapeutic relationships are about trust and safety. There’s even a clinical term for it therapists use all the time, “The Therapeutic Alliance”. When choosing a therapist, asking yourself if you feel like you could trust and feel safe with this person is a great place to start.

Experience & Training

A therapist’s experience is important, but making sense of the different types of therapy, therapists and treatments can feel overwhelming. When we set out to define them all in our Types of Therapy Guide, we had to work hard to keep it to a simple 18!

Mental Health Match is designed to help do the work of matching your needs to a therapist’s experience, training, and costs. Your answers in our matching process are correlated with the various types of treatment offered by our therapist community.

A great thing to ask about when you first meet a therapist is their experience working with people like you. Keep in mind that a good therapist’s job is to help you decide what could be right for you, or even to refer you out to someone who can help you better than they can. While being knowledgeable about the type of therapy you need can be helpful and empowering, know that you shouldn’t have to take this on alone. This is why MHM was created.

Cultural Fit

Many people already have some idea about who they could see supporting them as a therapist, e.g. someone of a certain age, race, gender, or cultural background. Often people feel that someone who shares their background will be better able to understand them. This is an important instinct to listen to and to talk about with your therapist. It’s very important that you feel heard and understood by the practitioner you choose. 

It is worth considering that it’s possible to feel connected to someone who doesn’t fit that initial picture you have in your head. It’s always worth asking a therapist what their experience is like working with people from your background. Hearing them talk about those challenges and success should provide you with information that helps you make the right choice.

Connection

Therapy is about connection. Our goal is to narrow your search and support you to feel confident in your choice. We would never promise that technology is better than your own instincts. That is why we recommend having introductory sessions and/or consultation calls with up to three of your recommended therapists.  Introductory sessions are full therapy sessions whereas consultation calls free 15-20 introductory chats. Some therapists offer one or both of these.

Feel free to use these introductory conversations to get to know a therapist’s personality. For example, does their humor vibe with yours? Is this someone you feel safe telling anything to? Were there any moments you wondered if you were being judged?

You should know that the therapeutic relationship isn’t like a normal relationship, however. It’s designed to be a space where you are free to show up as your full self. Since this is your time, it is common for a therapist not to talk a lot or to reveal details about themself. In fact, this is usually the sign of a good therapist.

Making a Final Decision

A therapeutic relationship is a very important one. A therapist is someone you will trust with some of your deepest thoughts and hardest moments. Ultimately, it’s your instincts that should guide your choice, but also remember that trust takes time. Because therapy is about the relationship, one of the best ways to find reassurance and confirm your feelings is to ask questions or talk about any fears you might have with your therapist directly.

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C. Adamo, PhD

Written by Mental Health Match & Reviewed by C. Adamo, PhD

Mental Health Match is building the best place to find therapeutic care. Use our matching tool to instantly discover the therapists who meet your needs.