5 Things To Consider When Choosing a Therapist

Starting the Search

How do you even start searching for a therapist?  Word of mouth referral, Google and social media searches as well as physical location are probably the most common considerations. But are these the most important points to consider? Although it’s probably one of the biggest investments you will make in yourself, choosing a therapist is not that simple.

If you caught our weekly “Tidal Talk” last week on our Facebook Page, you would have seen two of our team members, Anna McCully and Jacie Targett, discussing this very topic.  We’ve organized their thoughts into what we hope will serve as a helpful guide for you in choosing a therapist.

1. Consider What Values Matter Most To You

Most therapists will offer a brief description of their education and experiences and the type of clients they specialize in.  Therapists also bring their own lived experiences into the therapeutic relationship. You may find yourself more comfortable working with a therapist who shares your cultural, gender or religious beliefs and experiences.  However, it’s also important to consider whether the therapist you have chosen has the ability to hold space for your needs in these areas which may be different than their own.  For this reason, some people may prefer to work with a therapist who does not have similar lived experiences.  It really is a personal choice to consider.

2. Are Your Needs Short Term or Long Term?

Perhaps you’ve got a major issue that you really need to talk out with someone to come up with a quick solution.  Or maybe you’ve been noticing patterns in several areas of your life that require some attention. Some clients come to therapy knowing exactly what they want to work on in therapy.  For others, therapy is seen as more of a blank slate, a safe relationship to explore patterns that aren’t clearly formed just yet.   You’ll notice that some therapists are more directive and solution-focused while others may be more relational and reflective. It’s important to think about what your personal goals are in therapy and finding the therapeutic relationship and that can best support these needs. 

3. Individual or Group Therapy?

Although many people gravitate towards individual counselling to address personal issues, there are benefits to considering group therapy approaches.  It’s easy to understand why group therapy may be a little overwhelming, especially if your area of struggle involves vulnerability or social anxiety.  The relationship that develops amongst group members is often its’ strength. And the insights that are reflected come from the group members’ lived experiences which can offer far more perspective than what occurs in individual therapy.  Group therapy can also assist in reducing feelings of isolation, shame and stigma that are often attached to seeking help.  It may also be more cost effective and easier to access group therapy options than individual therapy.

4. Therapist’s Practice & Experience

You don’t need to know the educational or training background of every therapist you are considering working with but it is good to know whether they are specialized or generalized in their approach.  You should never feel like you are receiving  “cookie cutter” therapy in a session. It’s important to chose a therapist than can be reflective and responsive to your needs.  

People may come to therapy because they have heard of a specific therapy like “CBT” (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) or “EMDR” (Eye Movement Desensitization & Reprocessing) and it’s okay to ask the therapist about their training in this area. It is more important, however, that you choose a therapist that will help you to figure out which approach which might work best for your needs – not just the one they are trained in.  Most therapists will also offer a recommendation to another therapist if they believe that another clinician will be better suited to your needs.

5. Reach Out & Ask Questions

Most therapists will offer free, brief consultations to determine whether you are a good fit for each other.  There are also options to access sliding scale rates or student counselling if the cost of therapy is a concern.  Most therapy clinics offer content through social media pages, websites and other venues like blog posts or webinars, so it’s also a good idea to get a “feel” for the therapist or clinic that you are considering working with and to reach out with any questions you might have.

We hope this will help you in finding the right match for your therapy needs! Please contact us if you need any additional help finding a therapist for you.