On Finding a Good Therapist

On Finding a Good Therapist
Thinking about Therapy?
Take our quiz to see therapists who are a good match for you.

Browsing through Psychology Today or Google, you’ll find many therapists: psychologists, social workers, counselors…there’s an alphabet soup of clinicians out there, all with different ways of practicing. So what is the best way to find a therapist? Rather than focusing on the many acronyms (e.g. LP, LMSW, CBT, LPC, DBT), it’s best to look for certain qualities in the clinician themselves and how they interact with you.

Time is Taken to Ensure “Fit”. It is not enough that one person is a therapist and the other a patient. Therapy effectiveness rises when a thoughtful discussion is had; one in which you can share what brings you to therapy, ask any questions of the therapist, and get a sense of whether the relationship will work.

Common Factors. Research has found there are essential elements common to various psychotherapies. This means that therapists may describe their approach in different ways (e.g. cognitive-behavioral or psychodynamic), yet most share the same foundational ingredients. These factors include but are not limited to: building and maintaining trust, setting clear expectations, well-developed empathy skills, developing a genuine relationship, focusing on the expression of emotion, identification of recurring themes and patterns, and exploration of past experiences.

Good Therapy Should Be Focused. This does not mean there are “quick fixes.” On occasion, people can feel better quickly, but more often they discover whatever created the presenting symptoms is complicated, perhaps necessitating treatment over a period of months or years. Good therapy can be somewhat open-ended, creative, and unpredictable, but it should not be unstructured and unfocused regardless of treatment length.

Be on the Same Page. This aim of your therapy work can be quite simple, broad, multilayered, imprecise, future-oriented, past-focused, and so on, but it must be mutually understood by both parties. It is not enough that this knowledge/goal exists independently within the therapist or the patient: it is mutually and interpersonally agreed upon, as are the methods for going forward. 

Remember, you’re in control of your own treatment. Ask questions, trust your instincts, and feel free to shop around.

Best wishes in your future therapy!

You May Also Like