How To Find A Therapist That's Right For You

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Find out how to find a therapist that is a good fit!

Finding The Right Therapist

Mental health continues to be a major health concern in the United States and around the world. In the U.S., only 41 percent of people with a mental illness and 62.9 percent of people with a serious mental illness have received counseling in the last year.

It can be really hard to begin therapy. It's a very vulnerable experience opening up to someone you just met. Even if it's their job to help you, it can still feel uncomfortable, especially at first. We wrote this guide to help you find a therapist that is a good fit for you that will help you heal from prior trauma and mental illness.

1. Think About What You'd Like To Get Out Of Therapy

If you've been to therapy in the past, you may have some idea of what you'd like to get from therapy, but if you haven't, it's a good idea to have a general idea of why you want to go. Dr. Colleen Cira of the Cira Center For Behavioral Health says, "You should know what you want to work on [when beginning therapy]." She poses some things to consider:

• Would you prefer to explore your present in therapy? Is there a reason you'd rather not explore your past?

• Would you rather focus on past things in your life instead?

• "Do you want someone to help you ‘solve’ your problems or someone who will really sit with you in your pain or both?"

2. Do Your Research

Once you realize you'd like to try therapy, the next step is to do some research. Some people reach out to others they know are in therapy for recommendations. Their therapists can give them recommendations that can work out. Other people take to the internet to start sleuthing. Doing research online is very helpful.

Psychology Today has a great online directory that lets you search for therapists, psychiatrists, treatment centers, and support groups. You search your location and can view the profiles of therapists in your area. There's also an option to narrow down your search by different insurance options, different issues they can help with, gender, sexuality, language, therapy types, and more. It's a really great service to use. Googling counselors and therapists in your areas will also generate plenty of search results for your to comb through.

Jamie Kreiter, LCSW, of Jamie Kreiter and Associates Therapy stresses the importance of looking for a therapist that "specializes in a specific disorder or the symptoms that [you’re] experiencing."

Here's a great article on how to get treatment if you can't afford to.

3. Listen To Your Gut

Having a good relationship with your therapist makes all the difference. Dr. Cira says, "Goodness of fit is everything [in therapy]." Therapist and wellness coach Jor-El Caraballo says, "if you don't feel comfortable enough in a few sessions then it's probably best to tell your therapist this and work toward moving on." Many times, you can tell within your first few sessions if it doesn't feel like things are working out with your therapist, and that's okay. Sometimes they don't and you have to start over. Your therapist can refer you to someone else, or you can search elsewhere.

There isn't always anything outright about a therapist that doesn't feel right, but professor of psychiatry Keith Humphreys recommends listening to your gut. "If you feel instinctively unsafe with a therapist, that will probably inhibit the progress you will make. In contrast, if you feel you ‘click’ with a therapist, that's a good sign that you will be able to build a working alliance with them."

Other times, there are more outright reasons you don't click with a therapist. Mayra Mendez, Ph.D., LMFT, of Providence Saint John's Child and Family Development Center stays to "take caution in therapists who are insensitive to your beliefs, cultural practices, or [who] just focus on challenges to change without recognizing and supporting or building on your strengths." Therapists are imperfect people too.

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Do you think you'll see a therapist in the near future?

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