Selecting a Therapist

Selecting a Therapist

How to Select a Therapist

Most people spend more time choosing a new cell phone than in selecting a therapist. Like cell phones or cellular plans, not all therapists are alike or offer the same services. The importance of selecting the best therapist for you will determine the outcome of therapy. Research indicates that it is the relationship with the therapist that determines whether therapy outcomes are successful or not. Consumer Reports published their findings which indentified only 2 factors leading to success in mental health treatment: 1) the quality of the relationship with your therapist and 2) the length of time in treatment –a longer period in therapy, produced better results.

When we are in distress or experiencing a personal or relational crisis, most of us are unable to think clearly about how to find the right therapist.  Having a plan of action/guide to selecting a therapist will save you time and money, and help ensure a successful outcomes in treatment.  Most therapists will offer a free consultation on the telephone and are happy to assist you in deciding whether the services they offer can meet your needs.

Below are suggestions to consider during your search for the right therapist for you:
•        Seek a list of referrals from trusted professionals such as a physician.
•        Plan to interview at least four or five therapists.
•        Prepare a list of questions to ask during interviews.
•        Write out three objectives you hope to achieve in therapy.
•        During the interview, notice if you feel comfortable talking to this person.
•        Notice if there is rapport or a sense of trust that seems to come naturally?
•        Remember, you have the choice of who you choose to work with.

Following is a list of possible questions you might ask potential therapists:
•        Do you work with children or adults?
•        What is your training and how long have you been a therapist?
•        Do you have experience in… (specific area)?
•        What are your fees and the length of sessions?
•        How often do you recommend therapy?  Weekly?  Bi-monthly?
•        What strategies do you use when working with clients?
•        What does the therapist view as a successful outcome in treatment?

For many, asking these questions may feel uncomfortable. It is important to remember that you must feel at ease with the therapist.  You will be need to feel safe with this professional with your personal and private thoughts, information or feelings.

If your phone interviews lead you to a therapist where you do not feel comfortable, do not give up on finding treatment for yourself or a loved one. Don't let one bad experience in therapy keep you from trying out the services of another professional.  

Stay informed and focus on being an educated consumer seeking a relationship with a trained professional to assist you with specific, personal matters. 

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