When you’re looking for the right therapist, start with friends, relatives, pastors or others with whom you feel comfortable discussing your need for counseling. Can they recommend anyone they know personally?
The next step is to take to the internet. Go to www.psychologytoday.com or www.goodtherapy.org, type in your zip code, and you will find a list of therapists in your area. Read everything they included on their profile, looking for the kind of therapy you need. Some therapists check just about every box from ADHD to Weight Loss. That means they are willing and able to work with each of those issues, but it doesn’t necessarily mean they are an expert in all of those fields.
Now that you’ve narrowed down the field and found a few therapists in your area, go to their websites. Read their blogs, and watch their videos if they have them, to see if they feel like a good fit for you.
Many therapists offer a brief, free consultation, usually by phone. Take them up on it. This is a great way to get to know a therapist in advance.
Ask how many clients they have seen with your particular issue, and if they have had additional training in the area. They may be happy to work with clients dealing with addiction or infidelity, but may not have worked with more than 1 or 2 people with these problems, and they may not have taken additional specialized training beyond their degree and licensure. That doesn’t necessarily mean you should rule them out if they feel like a good fit for you otherwise, it’s just information to take into account.
If you’re looking for couples counseling, a good question to ask is whether they have taken any of the Gottman Method trainings, which is based on decades of research and found to be highly effective.
Another question is whether they use Cognitive Behavior Therapy, or Strength-Based Therapy, or Solution-Focused Brief Therapy, or something else. Ask for a brief description of the type of therapy they prefer and how they use it in their practice. Can they explain it in a way that is easy to understand? Does their answer sound like something that would be useful for you?
Ask about their fees, and if they take your insurance or have a sliding scale. Don’t write them off if they don’t take your insurance, though, as you may be able to submit paperwork afterwards for reimbursement.
Ask how long they usually work with a client. Do they focus on short-term problem solving, or long-term psycho-analysis?
The phone consultation will also be a good way to gauge how comfortable you feel talking with them. No matter how much training and experience they have, if you just don’t feel at ease talking with them, they are not right for you. Follow your instincts, and go with the one you feel you can open up to in a therapeutic relationship of mutual respect.