How to Choose a Therapist

There are a wide variety of issues that when addressed in a therapeutic setting offer many benefits for people. The reasons people seek out therapy include: Grief, Substance Abuse, Child/Adolescent issues, Relationship Problems, Depression, Anxiety, Panic Attacks, Stress, Eating Disorders, School Concerns, Loss issues, Family Problems, Sexual Problems, Employment Problems, Concerns about Medical challenges, Anger Management Problems, and many others.

Types of Therapists


There are many different types of therapists that could provide help for people. Such as:

Psychiatrist: Medical doctors who specialize in mental health and substance abuse issues. They diagnose a problem and prescribe medication to help alleviate the problem. They are similar to a role a Family Physician might play but have more of an expertise on mental health issues. Usually, someone meets with a psychiatrist for medication management for their mental health concern.

Psychologist: Doctorate degree in psychology (not a medical doctor). They administer tests, diagnose mental illness, and provide therapy to individuals, couples, groups, and families.

Psychotherapist: A Masters degree in Social Work or Counseling. They diagnose mental illness and provide therapy to individuals, groups, couples or families.

Substance Abuse Therapist: Professionals with advanced training in working with drug and alcohol problems. They diagnose alcohol and other drug abuse problems and provide counseling to individuals, couples, families, and groups.


Finding a Therapist


There are several different ways to find a therapist. Ask a friend or family member, through your doctor, through your employer, your insurance company, the yellow pages, or internet (under marriage, family, social work, counselors, psychotherapists, psychologists, or mental health) have listings of therapists.


Often times we put a great deal of time and effort into making purchases such as cars or homes. We should also put some considerable time and thought into choosing a therapist. Some questions to ask before deciding on a therapist include: Is this person licensed by the state? Does he/she have experience in working with my problem? Are they able to meet at times that are convenient for me? Do they provide the type of therapy I am looking for (insight oriented, solution focused, ect.)? Do they accept my insurance? and How much experience they have in their field? Most therapists would appreciate spending some time on the telephone in answering questions rather than meeting with someone with whom it would not be a good fit.


Evaluating Effectiveness of Therapy


It is important that you feel comfortable after meeting with a therapist. Among the areas to look at are: Do I feel my symptoms are lessening? Do I feel I am being listened to? Am I understood? Do I trust my therapist? Do I feel I have a good rapport with him/her?


Therapy could be a very rewarding experience. Just like most thing in life, one size does not fit all. It is important that when making such a major decision you put as much thought into this as much as possible. It is understood that when a lot of people seek out therapy, they may feel there is a crisis going on and want to start as soon as possible. If you do need to set up an emergency session, it is encouraged that you evaluate the fit and comfort level you have with your therapist as you continue therapy.