No one has come up with a fair and logical way of finding a therapist. This is one reason we, collectively, are writing web sites that describe ourselves and our work. Trial and error seems to have been the methodology in the past, but, boy, that doesn’t seem appealing or efficient. I am sorry that there is not a better system. So we proceed…doing the best we can, given the nature of the task.
No single therapist is good for all people. “Match” is the term that comes to mind, as we consider what is relevant during this important decision. You may have a friend or doctor who likes a certain therapist, but that therapist may fulfill the needs of that friend and not you. On the other hand, referrals are often the best way to proceed…or at least a way to start. In any case, it would be wise for you to see a therapist who is a good match for you. You will know it when it happens.
One thing is certain, if you go to a therapist and don’t feel comfortable, for whatever reason, look for another one. In general, you should feel at ease and find your therapist to be warm, well-intended, intelligent, understanding, and personable. The therapist is there for you, not you for him or her. The therapist will not, or should not, take your “search” for a therapist personally. He or she will know that you need to find someone with whom you can “relate.”
One way to proceed is to have a conversation on the phone. You can get a pretty good sense of a person’s manner and style during a 10 or 15 minute conversation. If your potential therapist is unwilling to give you some time, something is amiss.
There seems to be a difference between a therapist who wants to see 30 clients a week and make as much money as he or she can, and a therapist who is a therapist because he or she truly feels connected to the human race and, at a deep level, wants to help others. There are many therapists who fit into the later category. Some people actually like talking with other people about their problems in living…and feel great satisfaction from helping others. This is a therapist you should choose.
Also, in my opinion, beware of the 45 minute session. It’s too short. You just get started, and it’s time to quit. Your therapist can see you for an hour as it was for the past 50 years. I’m not being conservative or reactionary here; I just think we can take a break from ambition and greed. Sorry about the negativity.
Last point: There are plenty of smart therapists. But what you need to find is one with a heart. Although there are many factors that make up a “good therapist,” one thing is certain, he or she needs to have a good mind and a good heart.
So, good luck with this important endeavor. Put some effort into it and, if you can, take your time.
Choosing A Therapist