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How to Choose the Best Therapist

Close-up shot of young psychologist taking notes on clipboard while consulting depressed mixed-race patient during therapy session at cozy officeIt’s common to acknowledge therapy could help you, but many people do not understand where to start. It’s not as easy as picking a name in a hat, you have to find a therapist that suits your needs. Many factors—cost/insurance, specialties, education, and personality—contribute to finding a good therapist.

For starters, the first step is typically researching your potential costs and medical insurance. Therapy is typically covered in most medical plans, usually with a copay (often ranging from $10 to $30, on average). In addition to cost, your insurance will explain other benefits (covered visits per month and covered providers). Once you know your options, it’s time to start looking for therapists. Many insurance companies provide accepted therapists in list form, meaning you can download a list and begin researching nearby therapists. However, some insurance companies will only require a search by name repository, meaning you have to find the name and search to see if they are covered by your insurance. Additionally, there’s always the option to pay out of pocket for a good therapist.

The next step is researching a therapist’s specialties and education. Specialties refers to what that person views as their best areas to help clients. For example, substance use disorder, mental health disorder, aging parents, family trauma, marital problems, sexual trauma, anxiety, depression, and grief are all possible specialties. You will want to look for someone with experience treating your specific issues. In addition to specialty, education may or may not be important to you. Therapists need to have at least a four-year bachelor’s degree, but many will also have a master’s or even a Ph.D.

Once you narrow down your search based on cost, specialties, and education, you will need to assess if that person works well with you. With therapy, it’s not always a slam dunk with the first provider you meet. Every therapist may not work with you on an interpersonal level. This part of the process can be the most time consuming because it may take a couple of visits to determine if it’s a good match for you.

Here are some additional aspects to consider once you’ve met a possible provider:

  • Location: While yes, we all want a conveniently located therapist. However, sometimes it’s worth expanding your search and exploring options outside of your immediate neighborhood.
  • Professional attention: Does the therapist put your first? Ideally you want to find a therapist who prioritizes you over their phone and computer during your sessions. A good therapist will not take calls, answer texts, or even eat during a session. Aside from sipping a coffee, water, or tea, their attention should be on what you are saying.
  • Professional demeaner: Besides an occasional reference to a similar situation, your therapist should not be discussing their life with you. In fact, they should construct a border separating their personal life from their clients. Therapists are held to strict ethical policies and should never cross the line, which would include flirting or over sharing.

Horizon Therapy Associates

Did you know that Horizon provides professional counseling services for adults. Our team of compassionate therapists provides support and practical feedback to help you find resolution and improved functioning. With care and concern, we help you find solutions to a variety of life challenges and transitions as well as psychological issues. Call 716-831-1800 to find out more. All calls are private and confidential.