How To Choose The Right Therapist

Taking the leap into getting therapy can be difficult. It is hard to admit you need therapy, and even more difficult to commit to finding a person who can help you.  You may feel embarrassed or too proud to admit that you need help.  The truth is, people seek help for a number of reasons.  It is likely that some of your closest friends or colleagues see a therapist.  Your mental health is a personal thing and there should not be a stigma attached to employing a professional to help you work through your problems.

There are many ways you can get referrals to a good therapist.  You can ask a trusted professional for a referral, such as your doctor.  You can ask friends and family if you are comfortable with that.  Your job may also be able to provide you with names of therapists.

Before settling with a therapist, it is a good idea to sit down and conduct interviews with each potential professional to get a feel for whether or not they are a good fit for you.  Every person is different, so what works for someone else may not work for you. 

Before the Interview

Don't go into an interview with a therapist without preparing first.  During this time, it is important to evaluate what your goals are for your therapy.  You may also want to do a little research on different types of therapy approaches to see if there is one way you think will work the best for you.  Some things you will need to consider prior to meeting with the therapist are:

  • What are you wanting to get from therapy? What goals do you have for yourself? What problems are you attempting to resolve?
  • What values and beliefs do you want your therapist to share with you, and how important is it that they have similar values and beliefs? 
  • Is the therapist in question located near you, and do their hours work for your availability?
  • Is there a type of approach that appeals to you? Does the therapist in question practice that type of approach?

During the Interview

Pay attention to your feelings and gut reactions during the interview. Aside from the therapist themselves, also focus on the atmosphere, the location and your overall comfort level throughout the experience.

  • Let the therapist know what you expect to gain from therapy. 
  • Find out what kind of experience the therapist has with dealing with your particular circumstances and goals.
  • Allow them to tell you about themselves, their practice and what they have to offer. 
  • Find out what type of approaches they use and what their style of therapy is.
  • Ask if they have a disclosure statement that covers their training, their policies and their personal philosophy.
  • Ask about prices, hours and if they are available after hours in case of an emergency.

After the Interview

When the interview is over, reflect on how you felt during the meeting. Did you get a good vibe from the therapist, and could you see yourself working with them? It is important to choose a therapist that you are comfortable with and who respects you. You need to be able to trust them completely.

Also ask yourself if you truly believe the therapist can meet your needs. Even if they were very kind and you felt comfortable with them, if you have doubt in your mind that they can meet your needs then there may be someone better out there for you. 

Don't stop after one interview. If you have received multiple referrals, set up meetings with each therapist so that when you can feel confident making your final decision. If you need a referral to a good cancer therapist in particular, visit Cancer Lifeline.