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5 Things to Look For When Choosing a Therapist

written by Skye Kalil Written by Skye Kalil
Skye Kalil

Skye Kalil

Skye likes writing about mental health, nutrition, and wellness. She is passionate about sharing information that will educate, and positively affect people's lives.

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reviewed by Dr. Kimberly Nelson, Ph.D Reviewed by Dr. Kimberly Nelson, Ph.D
Dr. Kimberly Nelson, Ph.D

Dr. Kimberly Nelson, Ph.D

Dr. Kimberly Nelson earned her M.S. in Psychology from Eastern Washington University and Ph.D. in Counselor Education and Supervision from University of Northern Colorado. She believes mental and physical health are a balance of mind, body, and spirit. She has 19 years of experience, specializing in depression, anxiety, and relationships.

June 23, 2022 Read Time - 9 minutes

How Should I Look for a New Therapist?

Therapy can be incredibly helpful for people who are struggling with their emotional health. In 2020, it was estimated that around 41.4 million adults in the U.S. received mental health treatment or counseling at some time in the previous year.

Finding the right therapist for you is key to making progress while in counseling. The right match is important so clients can feel comfortable and establish rapport. There are a few factors you can consider when seeking therapy. 

Read on to learn what to look for when choosing a therapist. 

  • Browse our network of top therapist to find one that matches your needs.

  • Get private and secure emotional support weekly from your dedicated therapist.

  • Experience comprehensive care with unlimited access to your care team and primary care physician.

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5 Things to Look For When Choosing a Therapist

  1. Therapist credentials

The first thing you want to establish is the education and training of a potential therapist with their credentials. Therapists have different professional and educational backgrounds, as well as different specialties. Licensed professionals who conduct therapy include: 

  • Psychiatrists or Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners (NP)
  • Psychologists (PhD, PsyD)
  • Licensed Professional Counselors (LPC)
  • Licensed Clinical Social Workers (LCSW) 
  • Marital and Family Therapists (MFT)
  1. Personal fit and background

There are many different specialties therapists can focus on and have experience with. Therapists can go through specific education and training and have years of practice focusing on treating a huge variety of conditions, as well as experience with a variety of personal life experiences.

Another important aspect is the relationship between a client and a therapist. While going through therapy, vulnerability is a necessity, so choosing a therapist who makes you feel safe and comfortable is paramount. 

  1. Type of therapy

There are many types of therapy; however, the most commonly practiced talk therapy is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). Many studies have been conducted that show CBT to be very effective in treating conditions like anxiety and depression.

Some other common types of therapy include: 

  • Interpersonal therapy 
  • Dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT)
  • Solution focused therapy
  • EMDR for trauma
  • Biofeedback
  1. Cost of therapy

An important deciding factor of engaging in therapy is the cost. The cost of therapy can vary greatly, by location, therapist’s education and expertise, availability, and insurance plans. Depending on therapist’s rates and health insurance compatibility, many insurance companies will have mental health coverage in health care plans, and some can even provide you with a list of mental health professionals who accept your insurance plan.

It is important to see if your therapist accepts insurance and if they are in or out of network. Not all clinicians work with insurance companies, so you can check if they offer sliding scale fees based on income or discounts for private pay. Some psychologists do not accept insurance, but may operate on a sliding-scale fee policy, where the cost depends on your income. 

  1. Availability and Scheduling

Another important consideration is the future availability of the therapist, as well as their scheduling policies. Make sure potential therapists will be able to offer therapy as frequently as you would like, and at what specific time you would like to have a therapy appointment.

The convenience of availability and scheduling is one major benefit of online therapy. Because online therapy can be conducted remotely from a phone or computer, the options of when appointments can be attended dramatically increase.

  • Browse our network of top therapist to find one that matches your needs.

  • Get private and secure emotional support weekly from your dedicated therapist.

  • Experience comprehensive care with unlimited access to your care team and primary care physician.

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What are the Signs of a Good Therapist?

There is not a one size fits all rule when it comes to therapists. Not everyone would agree that the same therapist would work for them. However, there are common behaviors and patterns that demonstrate that a therapist is beneficial and constructive. 

Some signs of a good therapist include: 

  • They are an active listener
  • They are an effective communicator
  • Treatment feels evidence-based
  • They offer a range of solutions and give you the tools to do the work.
  • There’s a balance of emotional and practical guidance
  • They challenge you and hold you accountable — respectfully
  • It’s a no judgment zone
  • They’re mindful of all aspects of your identity
  • You notice a change in yourself
  • They respect you
  • They provide a safe space to address your concerns that is judgment free

How Do I Choose the Right Therapist?

Choosing the right therapist is fundamental to guaranteeing success with therapy. There is no guarantee of success with therapy, so perhaps choosing the right therapist is essential and is the foundation for all therapy, regardless of your presenting concerns. Having good rapport with a therapist can lead to clients accepting treatment and being willing to address their behavior and make a difference in their life. Having good rapport with a therapist can create a safe and supportive space for clients to address their concerns and hopefully improve their lives. 

When choosing a therapist, you’ll need to consider the following:

  • Their education and training
  • What their areas of expertise are 
  • What kinds of treatments they use 
  • What their fees are, and if they accept your health insurance
  • What their availability is 

It is recommended that you talk to more than one professional before making a choice. It’s important to see the difference between different therapists to find which one you resonate with the most. We offer free consultations to make sure you find the right fit for you.

How Do I Choose a Therapist for Anxiety?

When choosing a therapist for anxiety, the most important thing is making sure that they specialize and have experience in treating anxiety. Making sure that they use evidenced-based therapies to treat anxiety and have clinical experience treating anxiety are great places to start. 

Some individuals experiencing high levels of anxiety are more comfortable conducting online therapy sessions as opposed to in person. Many feel less anxiety in the comfort of home, so online therapy can be a good option for those with intense anxiety. 

How Do I Choose a Therapist for Depression?

Similarly to anxiety therapists, to treat depression you’ll need to find a therapist who specializes in treating depression. Make sure to find a therapist who has experience treating depression and specializes in whatever form of depression you are experiencing. Therapists typically use CBT to treat depression, as it has been researched thoroughly and studies show it is highly effective.

Questions to Ask When Choosing a Therapist

Before choosing a therapist, it is important to ask them a few questions to determine if they would be a good fit. Focus on what is most important for you to know. Some examples of questions to ask when choosing a therapist include: 

  • What are your credentials and experience? How many years have you been practicing?
  • What are your areas of expertise? Do you have a specialty?
  • I have been feeling (anxious, tense, depressed, etc.) and I’m having problems (with my job, my marriage, eating, sleeping, etc.). What experience do you have helping people with these types of problems?
  • Do you practice a particular type of therapy? 
  • What is the rationale for the therapy you practice and its evidence based?
  • What are the goals of therapy? 
  • How will progress be assessed, and what happens if I am not starting to feel better?
  • Are medications an option? Are you able to prescribe medications?
  • What are your fees? Do you have a sliding-scale fee policy? What is your no show and cancellation policy
  • What types of insurance do you accept? Will you accept direct billing to or payment from my insurance company? 

Virtual Therapy FAQs

With PlushCare, all you have to do is go to our app or website, select your state of residence, and we will provide you with options of licensed therapists who are immediately available. We give you a list of potential therapists, and our website includes all the information you need to know: the states they are licensed in, their experience, specialties, their approach to counseling, and a bit about them. All of our therapists are licensed and fully certified.

Online therapy can be helpful to anyone seeking someone to talk to. You do not need to have a mental health condition in order to seek emotional support. From everyday life, to coronavirus stress, extra support is always good. 

If you are experiencing a moderate mental health condition, online therapy is an excellent resource. You should consider online therapy if you are experiencing any of the following: 

  • Feeling an overwhelming sense of hopelessness and sadness for long periods of time without getting any better despite your efforts 
  • Struggling to complete everyday tasks like concentrating on doing your job, or even activities you enjoy doing
  • Worrying excessively, expecting the worst, or constantly being on edge
  • Harming yourself or others, including drinking too much alcohol, abusing drugs or becoming overly argumentative and aggressive
  • No longer enjoying your day to day routine and feeling stuck

The number of therapy sessions will vary based on what your goals for therapy are. If you are seeking a long term management of a mental health condition like depression, therapy could go on for months, years, or however long you would like it to. If your goals are to get some tools to handle common triggers in your life, you may only need a few sessions.

It is typical to start with weekly sessions to establish the therapeutic relationship and develop trust and rapport so you can address your concerns. As you progress, you may opt to go every other week, monthly, and then as needed.  At PlushCare, the therapeutic plan is tailored to your unique needs.  

Speak with a Licensed Therapist Online

Book an appointment with one of our online therapists. All of our therapists are licensed, experienced, and ready to help. We connect you with therapists in every state and typically offer appointments available every 15 minutes. 

You can find a therapist using our website or app. Select your state, and we provide all the necessary information about each therapist’s background, experience, specialty, and what kind of therapy they practice. 

We also offer online mental health treatment. We connect you with board-licensed doctors who can diagnose a mental health condition and work with you through the treatment process. Our doctors can also prescribe medication if necessary, including anti anxiety medication, antidepressants, and other mental health prescriptions. 

Make an online appointment or schedule a free consultation with one of our therapists today.

  • Browse our network of top therapist to find one that matches your needs.

  • Get private and secure emotional support weekly from your dedicated therapist.

  • Experience comprehensive care with unlimited access to your care team and primary care physician.

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Read More About Online Therapy


Sources:

PlushCare is dedicated to providing you with accurate and trustworthy health information.

Psychology Today. “How to Choose the Right Therapist.” Accessed on June, 23, 2022 at https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/collaborative-care-and-psychiatry/202109/how-choose-the-right-therapist 

American Psychological Association. “How to choose a psychologist.” Accessed on June, 23, 2022 at https://www.apa.org/topics/psychotherapy/choose-therapist

NIMH. “Psychotherapies.” Accessed on June, 23, 2022 at https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/psychotherapies 

ADAA.org. “Choosing a Therapist.” Accessed on June, 23, 2022 at https://adaa.org/finding-help/treatment/choosing-therapist

Most PlushCare articles are reviewed by M.D.s, Ph.Ds, N.P.s, nutritionists and other healthcare professionals. Click here to learn more and meet some of the professionals behind our blog. The PlushCare blog, or any linked materials are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice, nor is the information a substitute for professional medical expertise or treatment. For more information click here.

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