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How to Find a Good Therapist or Counselor

Top 8 Qualities to Look for When Picking a Psychotherapist

  • Connection – Research has shown that the relationship between client and therapist is one of the most important factors in successful therapy. Notice if you feel connected to the therapist and consider exploring how important the therapist feels a connection is.
  • Trust – Is this therapist someone you feel you can or will be able to trust? You will probably be talking about difficult topics at times and is this someone you feel you might be comfortable with as you explore these sensitive topics. A sense of security and safety allows us to explore things that might otherwise never be addressed.
  • Caring – Do you get the sense that this therapist cares about you? If you feel like the therapist doesn’t care, that you can’t discuss that feeling, and overcome it with the therapist, this can slow down therapy or bring it to a stand-still.
  • Openness – Does this therapist appear to be open to feedback about what is and isn’t working in therapy? Does the therapist actively ask for feedback from you and act on that feedback? If you are able to provide feedback during your therapy and address issues between you and your therapist as they come up, you are much more likely to make progress.
  • Hope – Does the therapist instill a sense of hope? This, too, has been shown to be a key factor in successful therapy. Of course, this doesn’t mean false hope, but a realistic sense about the potential for positive change.
  • Perspective – How focused on pathology is the therapist? Some therapists are trained with a focus on pathology and diagnosing clients. In some cases, when there are severe symptoms, this can be important. However, in many cases a more holistic view of you and your environment may be more helpful.
  • Holistic – Clients and therapists often have preferences about working with thoughts or feelings. In many cases, it can be helpful to move back and forth between what you think and how you feel. Is the therapist comfortable working with your thoughts and your feelings? Does the therapist work experientially, helping you to feel your feelings, if that is helpful? Does the therapist help you to manage your feelings, so that you can feel them without being overwhelmed?
  • Goals – If you have particular goals (e.g., to change careers, find a significant other), how much and how directly is the therapist willing to focus on helping you to achieve those goals? Do you feel like you can have a clear discussion with this therapist about how much the therapy can focus on helping you to achieve your goals and, if the therapist feels this is not appropriate, can he or she explain why not?