What You Need to Know About How To Choose A Therapist

You’ve decided to take the next step towards improving your life. Maybe you’ve been struggling for several months. Perhaps you’ve heard about the benefits of therapy, and you’re intrigued about how it might help you. 

Today, more and more people are aware of the significance of their mental health. Likewise, research shows that 42% of Americans have seen a therapist at some point in their lives. Therapy can help people with a variety of issues ranging from serious mental illness treatment to providing support for significant life transitions to relationship problems.  

That said, finding the right match isn’t always easy. Whether you’re just starting your search or you’ve already narrowed down a few choices, it’s essential that you know how to choose a therapist that can best support your needs. 

What To Look For In A Therapist

While everyone has different needs in therapy, there are a few essential considerations to keep in mind when securing the best fit. Knowing these considerations can help you be an informed client during your search process. 

Expertise and Experience

Whether you’re struggling with trauma, depression, or a tumultuous marriage, it’s essential to look for someone who has experience in treating your presenting problem. Expertise ensures that they will use the best treatment methods for your care. If you’re not sure if a potential therapist has experience in a specific area, consider asking:

  • What kind of experience do you have with treating this issue?
  • What does treatment typically entail?
  • What kind of results might I expect from therapy for this issue?


Finances sometimes represent a barrier for potential and current clients. Therapists vary in how they accept payment and what types of fees they charge. Your therapist should be direct and transparent about the cost of each session prior to beginning treatment. 

Therapeutic Approach

All therapists have various theories they use to understand and intervene with their clients. There are many different therapeutic approaches, and research shows that certain modalities may work better with some conditions than others. Some common approaches include:

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy (learning how to change negative thought patterns and maladaptive patterns to improve overall functioning) 
  • Acceptance and commitment therapy (learning how to accept difficult emotions and take ownership over how you cope with them) 
  • EMDR (learning how to decrease sensitivity and anxiety over emotionally disturbing material) 
  • Psychodynamic (learning how past patterns and unconscious defense mechanisms impact current behaviors and functioning)

Many therapists also blend a combination of various therapeutic approaches into their practice. Often, this eclectic style aims to provide unique, individualized care for the client.

Comfort and Rapport

Above all, it’s essential to feel safe and supported by your therapist. Unpacking your mental health inevitably represents a fragile and vulnerable process. You want to feel comfortable during this potentially unnerving time. 

Regardless of the presenting issue, therapy should be nonjudgmental and compassionate. You should feel encouraged by your therapist to take risks, be yourself, and harness your true potential. And while therapists sometimes use confrontational interventions to address particular issues, it’s a red flag if you feel attacked or belittled. 

What To Expect In The First Session

It’s reasonable to feel anxious and apprehensive before your first session. After all, you’re meeting with a complete stranger, and the process may feel overwhelming!

Typically, the first session includes an intake process. Intake includes reviewing all the necessary details of treatment including confidentiality, informed consent, and finances. If you have any additional questions about your therapist or about the process, this is a great time to ask!

Furthermore, you and your therapist will discuss the factors that brought you into treatment. You will also be asked a variety of questions related to your medical history, mental health, relationships, employment, and your outside passions. If you’ve had therapy in the past, you might also discuss what was and wasn’t beneficial during your treatment process.

During the first session, you and your therapist will also review goals for your treatment. You may know these goals ahead of time. If you don’t, you and your therapist will explore the most important issues for you to both address.

It’s normal to leave the first session feeling somewhat overwhelmed. However, it’s a good sign if you also feel some relief, excitement, and motivation for growth.

Final Thoughts On How To Choose A Therapist

Knowing how to choose a therapist is the first step towards improving your well-being. Moving forward with treatment is the next decision you’ll need to make. At Willow Counseling, we’re devoted to providing quality, evidence-based care for our clients.

Whether you’re ready to take the plunge or you’re still on the fence, we’re happy to talk to you! Contact us today to schedule a complimentary, hassle-free, 30-minute consultation

Willow Counseling, PLLC – Nashville, TN

Willow Counseling, PLLC exists to provide quality trauma-informed mental health counseling to the Nashville community, recognizing the interconnectedness of our emotional, spiritual and physical selves. We work together to alleviate symptoms, learn better coping skills, relieve burdens, remove the pain of trauma, and so much more. However, our greatest desire is for you to know what it means to feel purpose and joy again and to recognize the strength and worth you have to offer the world.


Posts You May Like