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May 04

How to Choose a Therapist

The Right Therapist

A personal decision

Choosing the right psychotherapist for YOU is a crucial step toward effective therapy. The relationship between a therapist and their client has been found to be the most significant factor in the success of the therapy. Here are some steps to help you find the best psychotherapist for your needs:

  1. Identify Your Needs
    Understanding what you need help with can guide you in selecting a therapist with the right specialization. This can include areas such as anxiety, depression, trauma, family and relationship issues, or specific disorders like OCD or PTSD.  If you don’t have a label to describe your needs – that’s OK.  Use this an opportunity to see how your therapist responds to you.
  2. Research Therapist Qualifications
    Look for therapists with the necessary credentials in the field of mental health. This typically includes psychologists (PhD or PsyD), licensed clinical social workers (LCSW), licensed professional counselors (LPC), or psychiatrists (MD). Check if they are licensed in your state and look into their educational background and areas of expertise.
  3. Consider Therapeutic Approaches
    Different therapists use different therapeutic approaches. Some common types include cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), psychodynamic therapy, humanistic therapy, and integrative or holistic therapy. Research these methods to see which aligns best with your personality and goals.
  4. Logistics
    Consider factors like location, availability, and whether they offer teletherapy. Cost is also a significant factor; check if they accept your insurance or offer a sliding scale payment option. Consider factors like location, availability, and whether they offer teletherapy. Cost is also a significant factor; check if they accept your insurance or offer a sliding scale payment option.
  5. Consultation
    Treat you first session as an opportunity to see how you feel about their style and approach. Ask about their experience with issues similar to yours, their treatment philosophy, and what you can expect from the sessions.
  6. Assess Comfort Level
    It’s important that you feel comfortable and safe with your therapist. Pay attention to how you feel during the session—do you feel listened to, understood, and respected? Your gut feeling can be a good indicator of whether you might be able to develop a strong therapeutic relationship.
  7. Diversity and Inclusivity
    For many individuals, it’s crucial that the therapist has a deep understanding of, or even personal experience with, specific cultural, racial, gender, or sexual identity issues. You might prefer a therapist who is culturally responsive. While some therapists might share aspects of your identity, no therapist can assume to know your experience. Every person should look for a psychotherapist who possesses cultural humility and does not presume to know who you are, what is important to you, or what you want prior to you sharing this with them.
  8. Don’t Give Much Stock To Online Reviews or Testimonials:
    Personal health information is confidential but some clients may share their experiences online. However, keep in mind that well boundaried clinicians will not seek your review or testimonial – nor can they ethically respond to ANY online posting – including ones that might not even be from a client.  As an example, over the years PeoplePsych has had some negative reviews (as well as lots of positive ones!) – some of those reviews have referenced clinicians that are unknown to or no longer work with PeoplePsych and some reference a specific therapist – but have never been a client.  Regardless, neither PeoplePsych nor the therapist can/will respond.  Therapy is a personal experience and while most clients report profound positive change, each relationship is unique.  Experiences can vary widely and there is no way any therapist can guarantee a result.
  9. Give it Time
    Once you start therapy, give it some time to work. It can take a few sessions to build rapport and get into the deeper issues. However, if you continuously feel uncomfortable or see no progress, it might be worth reconsidering your choice.  You might not feel comfortable bringing this up with your therapist – but know that you should be able to.  You therapist should want your feedback.
  10. Change if Necessary
    It’s okay to change therapists if you don’t feel the fit is right after several sessions. Therapy is a very personal process and the right match is crucial for effective therapy…and you don’t even have to talk about it.  This is a relationship that you choose and, it you decide that it is not working you can simply choose not to continue.

Finding the right therapist can seem daunting, but it’s worth investing some time to ensure that you receive the best possible support for your mental health needs.

Life can be complicated, messy, and rarely progresses in a straight line.  PeoplePsych is a Chicago-based psychotherapy group that treats adults seeking profound change in their lives.  We provide services that affirm the dignity, worth, and value of all individuals. We strive to create a safe non-judgemental space for clients to explore the issues that bring them. To connect with one of our therapists, please contact our Clinical Coordinator at (312) 252-5252 or