Your Therapy

How to pick a therapist

From time to time, I’ll be turning over my blog to other therapists from the Your Therapy team, so they can share their own insights on mental- health issues. Today’s post, on the important topic of how you select the therapist that’s right for you, is by Mary Benedetti.

Deciding to start seeing a therapist is big step, but it’s just the first step in a process. This blog is about how you interview a therapist, so you can find the best fit possible, and set yourself up for later success. And then I’ll explain how to prepare for your first session, and what you can expect from it. My aim is to help you in taking these important and brave first steps towards getting the support that will make a difference to your life.

therapy, therapist, mental health professional

Your initial consultation

Your first session with a therapist is an opportunity for both of you to assess the fit with each other. This should dispel much of the mystery, give you a sense of what to expect, and help you know if this professional might be right for you. 

First, let me address one of the biggest fears I hear. People are often worried they’ll have to immediately open up, and disclose a story of trauma or share very personal stories with someone they just met. That’s not the case. Instead, you can talk generally about what it is in your life you’d like to change. You might also ask about the types of therapies they use, and what kind of experience they have working on the challenges you’re living with.

I also recommend seeking a therapist who personalizes care, and views the process as collaborative. Whatever you ask about, it’s totally normal to feel uncomfortable in this first conversation. A better way to think about the experience is by asking yourself: Is this someone I can get more comfortable with? Did they make me feel at ease? Did our interaction feel positive? If so, then this therapist may be a good fit.

Your first session

Before your first full session of therapy, and to get the most from it, it’s valuable to reflect on what you are hoping for, and you want to get out of the experience. For example:

  •       How might you and your child/teen benefit from the support?
  •       What do you want to be different?
  •       What do you want less of in your life (conflict, anxiety, frustration)?
  •       What do you want more of (confidence, peace, connection, hope, direction)?

In addition, you should think about what communication style works well for you. Therapy is a dynamic process. So, will you get the most out of a therapist with a more structured and formal style? Or would you respond better to a therapist who’s more flexible and relaxed? Therapists can be more, or less, directive, based on their style and the type of therapy being provided.

All of this matters because your investment in the process is critical. After all, it’s your life, and the work you put in is yours, just as the fruits of this labour—the improvements, and progress made—will also be yours.

Thanks for reading and, as always, please feel free to reach out with questions about this or other mental health issues.

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