therapist2015Making the choice to begin counseling can be difficult; finding a therapist that you connect with and can help you is challenging.

Google will gladly overwhelm you with thousands of counselors or therapists in less than a second.

Therapy sites such as goodtherapy.org or Psychology Today offer search tools for specific cities and states.

As a therapist, I’ve had people find me through my blog, a friend, newspaper articles or a TV appearance, and Google. These can be valuable places to start, but there are many others.

Here are 10 tips for finding a great therapist.

  1. Ask around. Some of the best therapists are found by word of mouth. Friends and family members are often willing to share the name of their therapist, or a good one they’ve heard of by word of mouth.
  2. Use the internet, but check potential therapists out. Make sure they’re licensed, read online reviews, check out things they’ve written. This will give you an idea of their treatment modality and topics they’re familiar and comfortable with. You can even Google such things as “depression therapist” or “grief therapist” to help you narrow your search down.
  3. See whether they offer a free consultation, such as a phone call or even a brief visit. This can be a time to ask questions and get a feel for how your potential therapist communicates.
  4. Listen to your gut. When you first meet a therapist, do you feel comfortable and safe? Is s/he someone that you feel you can trust? Is the space inviting and private?
  5. Ask questions: How long have you been in practice? What is your license/degree in? What areas do you specialize in? How do you handle it if I have a crisis? Can I email you? Call you? Text you? Have you ever had your license suspended or revoked? What about confidentiality?
  6. Consider therapists that don’t take your insurance. You may pay more, but you could also be reimbursed by your insurance company for some part of it. In addition, clinicians who do not take insurance are able to keep your information more confidential simply because they do not report to your insurance company (which requires your therapist to give you a diagnosis), and your insurance company will not be involved in deciding how many sessions you should have.
  7. If you live in a small town or rural area where there are only a few therapists, consider either online/video or phone sessions. This works out very well for some people, and will give you a wide range of therapists to choose from. Keep in mind that most states only allow their practitioners to practice in the state they were licensed in. For example, if you live in Oregon you may not be able to use a licensed therapist in Wyoming.
  8. Keep looking and take your time.  If you haven’t found someone you click with and feel good about, you are not obligated to stay. Therapy can be a large financial and emotional investment, so keep looking and searching until you find a great fit.
  9. Know what those letters mean. After their name, counselors and therapists will usually list what they are licensed as. To add to the confusion, states often use different letters to describe the same thing. Here is a partial list to help you sort it out.  The list is incomplete, as it doesn’t include LISW (Licensed Independent Social Worker), which is what clinical social workers are licensed within my state, Ohio.
  10. Ask a therapist. If you have a friend or family member in the field, as them whom they would recommend.

Finding a great therapist may not be quick, but taking the time to find a good fit will save you time, money, and a good deal of frustration. A great therapist can help you make changes that will help you the rest of your life.

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