5 Simple Tips For Picking A Great Therapist

Finding a therapist can be tough; here's how to make it easier.

Last updated on May 16, 2024

Picking a therapist Hrant Khachatryan | Unsplash

I'm sticking my neck out here. I will no doubt come under attack from those therapists who say they cannot see you for two to six weeks because they are that much in demand, and that the demand is because they are just that good and worth the waiting for. Really? Here are five things you should ask yourself if you find yourself in this position. 

Here are 5 tips for picking a great therapist:

1. Who has made the referral?

Your primary care physician? Primary care physicians don't know a great deal about mental health or mental health needs and are likely to refer you to people they have a friendly relationship with or are on a mutual insurance plan with. 


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2. If I am in need due to my extreme emotional distress, is it reasonable to be told I have to wait for two to six weeks?

This isn't the elective surgery you're seeking. You are looking for help with something that has brought you to, perhaps, a crisis point. Most people who express this to their primary care physicians have debated telling anyone at all for quite some time. You likely need help now. You might even be feeling suicidal. What should you make of the person who is referring you to a therapist who might not be able to see you for two to six weeks? You should know that good therapists block out time weekly for new referrals and to meet the reasonable needs of existing clients who find themselves struggling between regularly scheduled appointments.


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3. What makes a therapist good?

Study after study done through the years says psychotherapy works when a client and therapist can form a therapeutic relationship with one another. And that is dependent on a therapist regarding you with empathy, unconditional positive regard, and genuineness. How will you know if they are effective at this? Believe me, you will know. Otherwise, you will go elsewhere. The best therapists, even those with little experience, will prove quickly that they are capable of providing these vital healing conditions. 

4. What is the one thing overall I should look for in a therapist?

Look for a therapist who has some credentials that have been acknowledged by training and certification from a respected institution. Whatever the therapist's orientation — psychoanalytic, cognitive behavioral, etc., — certified credentials will show that they have at least exposed their capabilities to scrutiny by a respected institution, not just their local clique of providers. 


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5. Am I willing to shop around?

True, by shopping around, you might pay for a few sessions that haven't brought you together with your ideal helper, but the money will be well spent. This places you in the decision seat, not your primary care physician — or even your psychiatrist if you've seen one by this point — and your comfort and confidence with a therapist will be critical to successful therapy. When you find someone you can trust, someone who advocates for you in finding the best collaborative care, you will find a partner who can help you throughout the immediate crisis you face and find your way to a better, more independent future where you make good, informed and confident decisions, including who you turn to for help. 


If you or somebody that you know is experiencing a mental health crisis, there is a way to get help. Call SAMHSA’s National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357) or text "HELLO" to 741741 to be connected with the Crisis Text Line.

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Vaughn Roche has been a therapist for over 20 years helping clients find or rediscover their strengths, talents, and values, and use them as a source of personal power and well-being.