When it comes to therapy, the right fit between client and therapist is essential to a positive outcome. Here are some questions to ask yourself before deciding whom to trust with your inner world:
- What are my specific needs and goals? Take the time to think about what you want to address in therapy and imagine how you will feel having achieved your best possible outcome.
- What are the therapist’s credentials? Make sure the clinician you choose is qualified. For example, the letters MFT or LMFT indicate a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, who has met the rigorous requirements of the state to practice psychotherapy.
- Do the therapist’s skills and experience match my needs? Don’t assume that every therapist is inclined to work with every potential client. Investigate what issues a clinician highlights and inquire as to whether s/he is well suited to address your concerns.
- Are we a personal fit? A certain level of comfort is critical for therapy to work well. When you speak on the phone or have a first session, ask yourself whether you will feel comfortable sharing your deepest truth with this person. Notice whether you get a feeling of safety and trust as you engage together.
- Is the location convenient? Do you feel resistance about making the trip to the office? Or is it efficient and easily incorporated in your routine? If privacy is top priority, consider whether the entrance and exit are discreet.
- Is the environment inviting? When you sit in a space, typically weekly, for 50-75 minutes at a time, it’s preferable to enjoy your surroundings. If a pleasant aesthetic is important to you, find a therapist who provides an office you look forward to visiting.
- How much can you afford to pay per session and do you plan to use insurance? Therapists have a range of fees and differ on whether and how insurance is handled. Many private practice therapists leave it to the client to submit for insurance reimbursement, so you decide whether to disclose details of treatment vs. retain privacy.
- Trust your gut. Above all, how do you feel in session? Are you comfortable? Relaxed? Do you know you’re in good hands?
Most of the time, people are drawn to a professional uniquely suited to help them. That said, even if you have a few initial sessions with a therapist who doesn’t turn out to be the one for you long-term, you’re likely to learn something about yourself. Don’t be shy about shopping around. You’ll know when you find the right clinician for you.