How Do I Choose a Good Psychotherapist?

May 26, 2016

I have been asked for years by friends about how to know if you are getting a “good” therapist.

  • Get at least 3 different referrals that you plan to interview.
  • Ask people whom you admire for referrals, not always necessarily those in your immediate circle.
  • PsychologyToday, is a really good way to search.
  • Match the level of issue you are dealing with to the experience of the practitioner. General issues = younger and/or starting out therapists, Complicated = older and/or experienced therapists.

Preventive Care & Investment

Negative Lifestyle Costs


$150/ hr X 2 month = $300 x 12 months = $3,600
$5,000 - $10,000
Weekly meals planner
Medical health assessment
Medical health assessment
Weights lifting plan
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Fat burning cardio workout
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Monthly health monitoring
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Medical health assessment

Remember, however, the age rule isn’t always commensurate with competence. Often someone is older when they go through training and so they may have ideal life experience that matches your issue. And a younger person might have gone into the profession because she/he has experiences beyond their years. A good counselor is usually well trained and has life experiences.

  1. It’s your job to make sure you match well. You are the consumer. Interview the therapist and even meet initially before you decide if you want to continue. Many clients drop out prematurely because they skip this step upfront.

Interview Questions

Some therapists have material public and others prefer to keep it private. That’s okay, just see how you feel about the ways in which they respond.  Your comfort with their tone and demeanor, along with your appreciation of their training, will be a good indicators if you will like them or not.

If you have a therapist that comes highly recommended, but you have an initial negative vibe, you may want to give them another chance. Just like all professions, psychotherapists can often be very cerebral and have intense, unpredictable content in their work hours. They often tend to be a bit introverted. Sometimes we can be “off” in our behavior with other people, especially after a long day in the consultation room. Talking with someone a little longer and earlier in the day, gives you a more complete read on their style.

Matching with the therapist is very important. One amazing meeting could equal 1 year of therapy with another therapist, that while perfectly professional, just isn’t as on the same wavelength. Do your homework! It’s really not the job of the therapist to make sure you are well matched.

  1. How long have you been in practice?Do you have children/spouse? (If this is important to you)
  2. What is your background training? Do you specialize? Please explain this approach in layman’s terms.
  3. What do you normally do for ___________? Are you passive or interactive?
  4. What clients do you work best with?How would you describe your sense of humor?

A few other suggestions.

Go with your intuition and try to be as present as possible to get the most out of the appointment. If things are not going well, empower yourself to tell the therapist. We want feedback, not avoidance. Remember, it’s your money!

A final note. Since therapy is expensive, I encourage people to optimize by scheduling in between other quiet pleasurable experiences. This gives your brain time to focus and digest the material, which really helps the process. Running in and out of the office in the middle of a hectic day can sometimes can wash the insights away into the stream of everyday life.

Good luck!

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