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How to choose your next therapist, from a therapist!

Samantha Rynderman | May 18, 2023

One of the most common barriers to therapy, other than insurance or finances is finding a therapist you actually like!

I've talked to clients and therapists alike trying to get an understanding about what makes a client therapist relationship work.

I'm going to share a few helpful tips that will guide you toward making an informed decision, before you meet with your next therapist.

  1. Is this therapist familiar with your background?
  • First of all, a therapist does not have to be from the same race, gender, culture, ethnic or religious background as you are to be a great fit. What can improve a therapeutic connection, however is if they do have either educational, personal, or professional experiences or training with clients of your background. Having a therapist that is familiar with cultural diversity can improve the quality, trust, and benefit of the therapeutic experience.
  • You might ask, have you had clients like me? Are you familiar with 'x' aspect of my background? Have you helped clients with 'y' problem?
  • Asking questions during a consultation can confirm whether your therapist has experience with clientele like yourself or may be less familiar with people of your background.

2. Does this therapist specialize in the problems I'm dealing with?

  • Are you battling trauma, addiction, postpartum depression...? There could be a number of things you could be challenged with, so you should feel entitled to have a therapist who has professional experience or training in the areas you want to work on most.
  • Meeting with a therapist who has qualified experience or training in the areas you need help with most can immensely increase the positive outcomes you experience from therapy.
  • Many therapists have special training or certifications in clinical interventions that are meant to treat specific mental health conditions (i.e. PTSD) or more broadly family/relationship issues.

3. How is your therapist's bedside manner?

  • So you found a therapist who is familiar with your background and they have great professional experience, but how do you feel when you are with them in the room (or virtually). Most therapists offer free consultations, so spend some time getting of sense of what you like or possibly not prefer about the provider.
  • Just as doctors, not one therapist is alike even if they went to the same school or had the same training. Much of what makes or breaks a therapeutic relationship is if you feel a positive presence from your therapist.
  • It's important to remember that therapists are people too and are not perfect, but here are some characteristics that make some therapists more compassionate than others. Things to look for are: kindness, patience, good listening, flexibility, empathetic, and passion for what they do.

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