Points to Consider When Choosing a Therapist

Points to Consider When Choosing a Therapist

Deciding to seek out a therapist for you or your child is a very important step towards beginning to see improvements in problem areas and experiencing relief from symptoms such as depression or anxiety.  However, this can also be a confusing process and many people are unaware of how to determine if a potential therapist is right for them or their loved ones.   Below are some important points to consider.

  • Experience: When you are talking to potential therapists in advance of your first appointment, or meeting them for the first time, it can be helpful for you to disclose some basic information about what you would like to address and ask about their experience working with others with similar problems.  When selecting a therapist to work with your child, or to provide family therapy, it is particularly helpful to ask about training and experience in these specialized areas.  You should also feel free to ask a clinician about their training, as there are many different degrees that therapists may hold.  Therapists can include psychologists, psychiatrists clinical social workers, and licensed mental health counselors, among others.
  • Orientation and therapeutic style: There are many different therapeutic “orientations” which refers to the way in which clinicians think about problem areas and then treat them.  Many of the technical details related to therapeutic orientations don’t necessarily need to be known in advance of selecting a therapist.  However, it is important to talk with a potential therapist about how you envision your treatment to make sure there is a good fit.  For example, if you know that you are interested in short-term therapy versus a longer-term therapy, or if you feel strongly about whether or not you would like to learn new skills as part of your therapy, those would be important details to share.
  • Therapeutic relationship: No matter how much training a therapist has, and how good they may look on paper, it is important that once therapy begins it feels like a good fit between you/your child and the therapist.  The therapist should be someone with whom you/your child feels comfortable and at ease and there should be a good rapport.   Our recommendation is to take about three appointments in order to determine if a good fit exists and if after three sessions it doesn’t feel right, it is perfectly acceptable to search for a different therapist.
  • Confidentiality: Therapists generally take confidentiality very seriously and work to ensure that information discussed in therapy remains private.  It is important that a therapist talk with you about privacy and any exceptions to confidentiality that may exist.  It is particularly important to talk with therapists treating children and adolescents about how they handle privacy when it comes to your child.  It is certainly important that parents of children are included in the therapeutic process and at the same time a child therapist should be able to talk to you about how they preserve some sense of privacy for a minor so that the young person can feel comfortable sharing information with their therapist.

Of course, there are certainly other considerations as well.  For more information you can reference: