Finding the Right Therapist


So, you’ve finally admitted it. It’s time to get some support. The problem(s) that you’ve been dealing with on your own has become overwhelming. “Therapy will help” you say to yourself. For some, you find the perfect therapist right out of the gate. This isn’t the case for most people, however.

As a therapist, whose been through my own set of therapists, I knew the road to the “right” therapist could be a rocky one. In a local Facebook group, it became abundantly clear that many people (people in my therapy affirming community) were having a hard time finding someone. This led them to almost give up and avoid the problem altogether. It got me thinking about HOW people go about finding someone and that, maybe, folks could use some guidance on this issue. I created a vlog series on my Facebook page which can be found here.  Here are my top 5 tips to finding the right therapist for you.


This is my top, non-negotiable tip in finding the right therapist. If your foot was hurting you, would you go see a gastrointestinal doctor? No. You’d go see a podiatrist. Same thing applies with therapists. Therapists are not jack of all trades. We get umbrella training in graduate school, but then it is on us to hone our skills and pick 1-2 groups of clients to really focus our energy. I say 1-2 because we really can’t see the same client all day. It’s so important that you find a therapist that is educated and an expert in what you need. If you need couples work, don’t go to a therapist that dabbles in couples work. Find someone that has specific training and sees couples regularly. Same thing goes if you need support around an eating disorder or if you are pregnant/postpartum. Once you figure out the niche, the candidate pool gets a little smaller and manageable.


This is my other non-negotiable in searching for a therapist. In my practice, connection is the foundation of what we do. Am I going to connect with everyone? Nope! There are some clients I am not a good fit for, and it is important to get that established right away so time isn’t wasted. I always recommend speaking with the therapist you’ll potentially be working with via a phone consultation. It should become clear whether you two are going to get on in the first few minutes of the phone call. You’ll also be able to ask any questions that may not have been answered on their website. Wait, they don’t have a website? *red flag* The initial phone call allows both parties to see if you want to take the relationship to the next level and have an intake session. Oh, and after you may have that session one or both of you may decide that it isn’t going to work out. No hard feelings, there’s other therapists out there.


Do you have a flexible schedule, or can you only see a therapist in the evening or weekends? This is an important factor to get out of the way in the initial contact. Please do not waste your time talking to a bunch of therapists if they can’t even see you when you need it. The interesting thing is that therapists are like doctors. We are healthcare providers. If needed, you may be able to flex your schedule at work or use time off for appointments. If you find the perfect therapist, but they can only see you at 9 am during the week, see if you can work through lunch one day or stay late another. If you can’t flex your schedule and need the extended hours, let that be a part of that initial email or phone call.


Many people want to see a therapist that is in their own town or very close. We all want convenience! Something to note is if you live in one town and work in another, that could open the pool of therapists you could see. Maybe you could pop into a session on your lunch break or head in before going into the office. Maybe you find a therapist that offers telehealth sessions and you don’t even have to leave the comfort of your home or office. The bottom line is that if you have a wider area to pull from, you’ll be more likely to find someone in-network (if that’s important to you) and/or that specializes in what you need as the client.


This is how many people go about finding a therapist. They harmlessly call their insurance company and find out who is in-network with their insurance plan. I mean, you have insurance you mind as well use it, right?! So, the helpful person on the phone sends you a list (a looooong list) of providers in your area and you optimistically start giving people a call. The problem with that list is, therapists don’t update their info on it regularly. You have no idea whether the person you’re calling is a. at that number anymore, b. is accepting new clients, or c. even specializes in what you need. Many times, clients are met with therapists that do not return calls and end up frustrated and ready to give up. I understand that finances are important, and you should be totally transparent upfront if you’d like to use your insurance to pay for part of the sessions. There are options outside of insurance that could work, too such as using out of network benefits or sliding scale options. I’m not saying you should have to foot the bill on your own, but more that I wouldn’t use your insurance company as the place to start the search.


Now that you have top 5 things to consider when looking for a therapist, I hope you feel more confident when you need to start your search. Let me know in the comments any barriers you’ve run into in finding the right fit.



* Photo by sydney Rae on Unsplash

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