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How to Find a Therapist - 3 Things to Look For

Updated: Sep 18, 2022

When professional support is needed, no one wants to waste their time going to one, two or three sessions with someone, just to realize they're not a good fit for you. Here are a few things to think about prior to scheduling an appointment.


1. Therapeutic Alliance

A bond and level of trust is one of the most important things for therapy to benefit you. A friend may trust a professional and recommend that person to you, but if you do not feel you can bond with that person, they may not be for you. You want to consider who you would open up to - someone your grandmother's age or someone your age, or person who identifies as a man or a person who identifies as a woman? Then consider what other characteristics of a person would invite you to build a trusting relationship.

Click here to read a concise article and watch 2 minute video that reviews the therapeutic alliance and what to look for.

2. Credentials

You may not know much about credentials and areas of specialty, but what is important is that a person has credentials from a licensing body and practices under a code of ethics. For example, if a person has an LCSW behind their name (a licensed clinical social worker), they will have a license number and an agency that regulates that license in your state. This is important since licensing bodies help protect the consumer - you. If you ever had a bad experience, you could report that person to their board. A therapist should not hesitate to disclose their licensing body, and in fact should have this listed on their disclosure and consent form you sign prior to your first session.

3. Specialty Areas

Specialty areas vary a lot, and don't always impact the therapeutic alliance, but they can. It is good to know where the therapist is coming from. If a therapist says their therapy is based in Biblical teachings, then you would want to be sure that platform is what you want to drive your therapy experience. Another example is if the therapist seems like a fit on all accounts, but they only practice one intervention or type of therapy, say EFT, and you have tried EFT and did not like it, you would want to choose a different therapist. Rather than knowing all about therapy types and techniques, however, I recommend you just ask the therapist what perspectives drive their therapy. That will help inform your decision.

Here is an example: When you ask, a therapist may say they practice from a systems perspective. That would mean they consider individuals and how they function in their family, work group and other groups or systems they are in within their community. In that case, they may ask you a lot about your upbringing and family and other relationships. If that is NOT something you are willing to discuss, you probably will not be happy with that therapist.

Here is another example: When you ask, the therapist says they use brief therapy and usually only need one or two appointments. If you like that, you will really want to try brief therapy. If you want someone to talk to throughout a transition, you may want to try someone else with a different approach.


Bonus Tip 1: When looking for someone to work with your child, you will want to know their training that qualifies that person to work with children. It is a specialty.

Bonus Tip 2: A therapist should NEVER go to a movie, on a date or out to eat with you. That may seem like it makes sense as you read this, because your therapist is NOT your friend, but you would be surprised how often these things happen.


Email The Center of Love and Acceptance if you have further questions.

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