What should I do when choosing a therapist?

Choosing the right therapist can be a very difficult and confusing process. Some will tell you to interview a therapist prior to making an appointment. Although that sounds great, it is not practical for most therapists. If they are not seeing a patient in session they are not getting paid. So how do you choose a therapist?

How to choose the right therapist

Choose a therapist by their specialty.

Most therapists have a web site or can give you their clinical experience and areas of specialty. It is easily assumed if you have treated 100 couples you probably have some broad clinical experience. If the area you need is not in the therapist’s specialty, choose another therapist.

Choose a therapist by time in the field or their experience.

Experience does matter. Although being new to field is not bad, a therapist must tailor learned clinical information from theory into practical application for their patients. This takes time. Working in the field for 10 years is better than 2 years. Also the therapist’s diagnosing skill will likely be more accurate because of the number of patients they have seen. Without the right diagnosis you might not receive the proper treatment approach.

Choose a therapist through recommendations and feedback.

Choose a therapist by the feedback you get from the community, another professional, a personal friend or family who knows the therapist. A good or bad therapist will be known by their ability and the feedback within the community. What you will hear about is the skilled therapist, not the therapist who does a poor job. The praised therapist will be the one to choose.

Choose a therapist who is part of a group.

Independent therapists often answer their own phone – and sometimes in a therapy session. Otherwise they are not accessible during that time. They tend not to have back-up for clinical coverage, or issues that come up, and the ability to review the case with another professional. Ideally the therapist you choose would have other therapists to collaborate with on a case, a psychologist for testing if needed and potentially a psychiatrist for medication should it be warranted. Quality therapy can involve a team of professionals working together. Ideally this would be in the same office for the convenience of the patient in scheduling appointments and having clear communication between the professionals involved in your treatment.