Step 3: Choosing a therapist

The most important factor while choosing a therapist is your chemistry with them.  Your gut feeling will be a powerful source of information. However, for effective therapy, you also need to look out for a therapist who is well trained and a good fit for you. Here are the key factors to consider:


Compatibility and connection (Most important)

  • Do you feel understood and respected, and not judged or pressured in any way?
    • Especially with regard to your beliefs around marriage, drugs, sexuality, etc.
  • Do you feel safe and supported to express yourself? Could you trust them?
  • Do you respect them and find them intelligent? Do you like what they said and the questions they asked?


Practical skills – empathy, clarity and integrity (Very important)

  • Did you feel evaluated? Were they opinionated and giving you advice, or were they open and focused on listening to you?
  • Did you understand their responses fully or were they filled with jargon?
  • Did they ask questions to clarify or better understand you?
  • Did they make guarantees or promises, or seem overly positive?


Training and experience (Important)

  • Do they have at least 1-2 years of practical/clinical training?
  • Did their training include supervision or going through therapy themselves?
  • Are they accountable to a supervisor or peer group that they work with?
  • Do they have experience working with what you need help with, especially with issues such as trauma, addictions, eating disorders and sexuality?


Approach to therapy (May be important)

  • Do you prefer a certain school of psychotherapy? Each type is different in terms of its philosophy for treatment, which impacts what you can expect in a session, the role your therapist plays, what is discussed, how its discussed, etc (link to section on types of therapy)
  • What is the therapist’s view towards medication, and does it align with your beliefs or preferences?


While affordability and convenience are also important, it is critical to find a good therapist to get any benefit from therapy. No therapy is better than bad therapy! Don’t ignore a negative gut feeling when deciding on a therapist.

At the same time, they don’t have to be perfect. They need to feel like a good match overall, someone you feel good about working with.