How to Find a Therapist

Looking for a therapist can be confusing and stressful.  There are several things you should consider when choosing yours.  I hope you can find some useful information here to make it a bit easier.  It’s really important to find a therapist who knows what they’re doing and whom you like.  However, these are not the only important things to consider.  Here’s a quick list of important considerations:

1.  Training and Licensure:  Ask about their training and license.  Make sure they are licensed and in good standing.  Sites like Psychology Today and Good check licenses for each of the therapists they list daily.  Other sites may do this, too, but these are the 2 I use.  The letters behind someone’s name tells you what kind of license they have, but not whether they are in good standing or not.  I am a Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC) in MA.  To obtain this license I needed to:

  • have a masters degree in psychology or related field (mine was “Mental Health and Behavioral Medicine”);
  • have 3000 hours of supervised, face to face counseling experience;
  • have worked full time for 2 years after obtaining my masters degree;
  • pass the “National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination;”
  • provide references and proof of approved clinical supervision; and
  • agree to prove that I attend 30 hours of continuing education approved by the board every 2 years.

2.  Experience: He or she should have experience providing therapy for the issues you are dealing with.  Just ask them.  Therapists follow a strict code of ethics regarding seeking supervision if they do not have the necessary experience.  You can find a list of issues I can help you with here.

3.  Things to Look For:

If you can answer “yes” to these, it’s a great place to start.  Do you feel as if the person:

  • Listened to you and gave you their full attention?
  • Has an accurate understanding of what your goals are?
  • Seems like they care about you and your goals?
  • Acts with compassion and unconditional positive regard for you?
  • Welcomes questions about their credentials, techniques and experience?
  • Checks in with you about the progress of therapy and whether you think you are on track?
  • Is sure to tell you the truth, even if it’s something you don’t want to hear?
  • Supports you or even pushes you (in a good way) towards your healthy goals?

Published by Erin M. Stathis, LMHC

I am a psychotherapist.

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