Therapy is most effective when you feel comfortable with the therapist’s skill, personal style and ability to empathize with your particular situation. Since psychotherapy is a process that typically extends beyond one session, here are some factors to consider when choosing a therapist. You may be able to evaluate some of these factors before the first session and others during the first session. However, some may take two or three sessions to become clear.
- Location: are you willing and able to travel to the therapist’s office on a weekly basis, if needed?
- Availability: is the therapist available on days and at a time when you can attend regularly?
- Fees: can you afford the regular fees the therapist you are considering charges? If you have insurance, part of this fee may be covered.
- Gender: does it matter to you if the therapist you will be seeing is a man or a woman?
- Credentials: is the therapist licensed to practice?
- Experience: does the therapist have experience dealing with your particular issue? Does this therapist convey understanding of your situation and does he/she offer a treatment approach that makes sense to you?
- Personal style: are you comfortable enough with this therapist’s style of interaction that you will be able to discuss personal and possibly difficult information with them?
- Effectiveness: feeling better is the goal. However, initially, whether or not you feel better is not the best indicator of effectiveness of your therapy.
Here are some other questions you might ask yourself to aid in evaluating your therapy.
- Is the therapist helping you?
- Is your therapist open to discussing your reactions to his or her interventions?
- Is the therapist striking a constructive balance between supporting you and challenging you?
- Are you learning anything about yourself?