We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.

Advertiser Disclosure

Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

How We Make Money

We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently from our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

How Should I Choose a Therapist?

Tricia Christensen
By
Updated May 17, 2024
Our promise to you
WiseGeek is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At WiseGeek, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

When you choose a therapist you are making a hugely important decision. You are asking someone for help where you may be most vulnerable, and entrusting that person with some of the most private and confidential matters in your life. It’s therefore wise to put some thought into how you choose a therapist, though there are practical considerations that may need to be taken into account too.

One of the frustrating things about choosing a therapist may be that it can take a few sessions to get a sense of whether or not you will feel comfortable working with a certain person. Often you have to go on first impressions, especially if your insurance limits the number of therapy sessions it will pay for in a given year. There are a few things that you can ask yourself and any therapist you might contact, before you have your first session.

First, you might ask yourself if you will feel greater comfort working with a person of a certain gender. Both men and women may feel that they would be better able to talk about difficult issues with a person of the same or opposite gender. Don’t worry about being sexist here; simply go with gender preference when you consider what you’ll be discussing. Therapy works best when a person can talk about complex feelings, emotions and situations without embarrassment. If opposite or same gender appears to make you more embarrassed, eliminate the therapists you feel you won’t be able to speak with fully and openly.

Second you should consider how to choose a therapist based on type of therapists: psychiatrists, psychologists, Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) and Marriage and Family Therapists (MFTs). If you think your problem may not be resolved without psychiatric medication, the logical choice is a medical doctor — a psychiatrist — since he or she can both prescribe medications and conduct therapy sessions. Not all psychiatrists do both. Some function primarily to manage and prescribe medications, and will only see you for half-hour sessions. In this case you may need both a psychiatrist and a therapist of another type.

Probably more important than degree or titles is level of experience, especially in dealing with your specific issues. This is a question that can be asked prior to therapy. If you’re trying to choose a therapist to work on issues in your marriage, you want a therapist that has in depth experience with couples’ counseling. Before heading to your first session, make sure the therapist you choose has some experience or expertise in the area you need. A therapist who hasn’t worked with kids before wouldn’t, for example, be the best choice for your child. A good question to ask here in an initial phone interview with a therapist is: “How many people have you treated with concerns like mine and how successful was your treatment?”

Another question to ask is whether the therapist will take your insurance, which can definitely help with payment. When you are uninsured or have limited resources, look to charitable organizations within your community that can help provide therapy at minimal costs or on a sliding scale fee. Note that sometimes this therapy is done by people working toward fulfilling their hours requirements to get licensure, but that licensed counselors will supervise them.

It also makes good sense to create some goals. What do you want out of therapy? What are you trying to resolve? In a first session after you choose a therapist, or even in a pre-session phone conversation, you may want to state your goals and ask the therapist if he feels he can help with them. When a therapist states plainly that he can’t help you achieve these goals it’s time to choose a different therapist who can.

Other things to consider include state licensing and theoretical orientation (different types of therapy offered). The most important thing, though, is comfort. If you feel distinctly uncomfortable, it’s time to choose a therapist that may set you more at ease. Don’t expect that therapy is automatically a comfortable process; it certainly can be very difficult. However, listen to yourself and if you find the manner, actions, or ideas of a therapist in great conflict with your own, look elsewhere for someone who will fit you better.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen , Writer
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a WiseGeek contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.

Discussion Comments

By anon201112 — On Jul 29, 2011

Generally, before picking a therapist, I will call a therapist and speak to them briefly to see how verbally expressive they are and how they react to me as an individual. A first impression, after all, is key.

Tricia Christensen

Tricia Christensen

Writer

With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a WiseGeek contributor, Tricia...
Learn more
WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.