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Therapist Shopping

Psychotherapy photoFinding the Right Therapist for You- Six Essentials

Photo Credit: geralt(pixabay)

One very important act of self care that you can do for you- is to safe-guard your mental health and wellbeing. Part of your self-care action plan, or Wellness Plan should include a therapist as part of your support team. A therapist plays  an important role on your team; it is imperative that you find the therapist that is right for you, that you have confidence in, can trust, and that simply feels right.

Below are Six Essentials for Therapy Shopping:

1. LOCATION: Consider if you need the therapist’s office to be close to your work, or close to your home, or if that matters so much. How far are you able/willing to travel and how important is location to you?

2. GENDER: Do you have a gender preference? Whether one’s therapist is a male or female will matter more to some than others. The important thing is that you answer this for yourself, and that you know how important this is to you.

3. COMPETENT: Look each potential psychotherapist’s license up in the Licensing Board of your State before you even call. Do this as you are scrolling down the list of therapists. Take your time to read the bios. This is about your mental health, so take your time. If you go to your search engine and search for Board of Psychology and enter your State you should get to the correct website. Most State Boards have an easy look up system where you can enter the name of the therapist and it will show you their license number, the date that they were first licensed, and it will tell you if there are any disciplinary actions pending or taken against that therapist.

4. CAPABLE: After you have found three or four therapists that seem like they might be a match, judging from their advertisement and the fact that they are licensed and in good standing; the next step is to call. When you call, you will either get the Therapist on the phone, or you will get the therapists office manager. If you get the therapist, ask this question directly, “Do you treat people who have bipolar?” “How much experience do you have working with people who have bipolar?” If you receive a “yes” to both questions, you will want to explain that you are seeking a therapist who can work with you in all areas related to bipolar including symptom management, coping skills, family relationships, doing well at work, etc. Then listen to what the therapist tells you about what he or she can provide. If the office manager answers the phone, ask if it is possible to talk to the actual therapy provider for 15 minutes before deciding if you can make an appointment. In some clinics, this is not possible. If this is not possible, then asked the office manager what he or she knows about the therapists experience with people who have challenges with bi-polar.

5. COMPATIBLE: Ask for an initial consultation. During this consultation, ask the psychotherapist what their approach to therapy is and what to expect. This is the time to tell the psychotherapist what you are hoping to get out of therapy and to ask if their approach can help you. Different therapists have different Theoretical orientations, and utilize different techniques in their therapy. During this initial consultation, you will get a sense for how it feels to be with this person. If you feel comfortable and you believe that you can open up easily, then this is a positive sign. During this consultation, it is also very important to talk about the fees. Some therapist’s provide services on a sliding scale if you do not have insurance. Some take insurance but will also ask a co-pay. You will want to know both the actual out of pocket fee, and the method of payment.

6. SHOP AROUND: This is your life, your time, and your money. This is your well being. This is your mental health. Take your time. You will want to see the same therapist for several months and up to three years in some cases, consistently and weekly. You will likely want to retain this therapist after you have completed therapy so that you have the therapist as a support person should you experience a depressive or manic episode. A good therapist will be happy to know that you are taking your time and that you are shopping around. And it is better to do this before you get into the therapy sessions. So, it is perfectly ok to meet with two or three different therapists before settling on one.

Next Blog will explore how you should be treated by your therapist: If you should stay, or move on.

Therapist Shopping

Dr. Barbara Bachmeier

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APA Reference
Bachmeier, D. (2015). Therapist Shopping. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 24, 2019, from


Last updated: 27 Mar 2015
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 27 Mar 2015
Published on All rights reserved.