Therapy FAQ

How to Find a Good Therapist: 10 Tips and What to Avoid

Finding a good therapist is an essential step on the path to mental and emotional wellness. Whether you’re facing personal struggles, dealing with past trauma, or simply pursuing personal growth, a therapist can provide an invaluable lifeline to help you navigate the complexities of your inner self. However, finding the right therapist can prove daunting […]

Grow Therapy therapist Gregorio (Greg) Lozano III LPC By Greg Lozano, LPC

Updated on Jan 12, 2024

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Finding a good therapist is an essential step on the path to mental and emotional wellness. Whether you’re facing personal struggles, dealing with past trauma, or simply pursuing personal growth, a therapist can provide an invaluable lifeline to help you navigate the complexities of your inner self. However, finding the right therapist can prove daunting since there are so many options and factors to consider.

Finding a therapist who meets your unique needs helps establish an excellent therapeutic relationship. Forming a great relationship with your therapist improves therapy outcomes.  

This article will explore what to do and what not to do when searching for a therapist to ensure a great therapeutic experience that unlocks the doors to self-discovery, healing, and better mental health and wellness.  

What Is a Therapeutic Relationship?

“The therapeutic relationship is the working relationship between clinician and client. It can be summed up as the amount of working trust between clinician and client,” says Grow Therapy provider Chance Reynolds, LCSW.

This therapeutic relationship based on mutual trust and respect forms the foundation for effective therapy, and is a great predictor of therapeutic outcomes. Establishing a good relationship with your counselor makes treatment a collaborative process that empowers you to achieve your therapy goals.

Research shows a healthy therapeutic relationship based on genuine and authentic interaction with your therapist helps steer therapy in the right direction. As the therapeutic relationship evolves, you may feel comfortable disclosing intimate thoughts, emotions, and experiences. That allows your therapist to tailor treatment strategies to suit your needs

The overarching goal of establishing a therapeutic alliance is simple — you’re more likely to enjoy therapy and follow through with treatment if you like your therapist. You’re unlikely to miss appointments, drop out, or deviate from the recommended treatment plan. 

It’s important to check in and see how you feel about your therapist and the relationships you have with them. “A good indicator is how you feel after each session. Do you feel like the clinician understands what you are saying? Are they providing helpful insights and helping you comfortably push your boundaries? If you feel like your needs are being met, you probably have a good therapeutic relationship,” says Reynolds. 

Why Does Therapeutic Alliance Matter? 

Psychotherapy provides a safe space for clients to introspect and explore their most intimate thoughts and experiences. Clients are more receptive to a therapist’s advice when they like their style, trust their abilities, and feel they hold their best interest at heart. Key reasons why therapeutic alliance matters include: 

Forming a trusting relationship with your mental health provider ensures steady progress since you’re assured of the support you need to overcome obstacles. 

10 Tips for Finding the Best Therapist

Psychotherapy thrives on honest conversations about yourself and having an empathetic therapist to guide and support you. Therefore, you should connect with a counselor who ‘gets’ you. The following tips will help you find the best therapist for your needs.

1. Define Your Needs 

A clearly defined therapy outcome simplifies your search for a good therapist. Setting therapy goals helps you take stock of what you need help with and determine which kind of therapist best addresses your concerns. Typically, all mental health counselors can treat and diagnose mental health issues and help you cope with everyday life challenges. 

However, therapists have different specialties, determining their fit, therapy fees, and service demand. Specialists command higher costs and may have longer wait lists than generalists. Defining your therapy needs may accelerate the search process and help you get into therapy sooner rather than later. 

2. Assess Your Financial Situation 

Therapy can prove expensive, depending on your choice of a service provider. Typically, it takes at least 11 sessions to achieve reliable change when treating a mental health issue. Therefore, you should take stock of your financial status and determine how much money you can afford to set aside for therapy. On average, most therapists charge $65 to $200 per session. 

If you have insurance, your plan may cover the lion’s share — up to a specific limit — leaving you with a co-payment of $20 to $50 per session. You can find a therapist who accepts your insurance by using the search filters on Grow Therapy.

Financial planning is crucial to a successful therapy experience, as your budget determines your ability to adhere to the treatment plan. 

3. Explore Your Options  

Once you have a set budget, you can embark on the search for a good therapist. Thanks to concerted efforts to make therapy affordable and accessible, you’re spoiled for choice:

4. Understand Therapist Credentials 

A counselor’s credentials determine the type of treatment and support they can provide. Some of the psychotherapists you will likely encounter during your search include:

5. Brush Up on Therapy Modalities 

Therapists use various therapy modalities to help clients address their mental health concerns. The best therapists lean toward evidence-based treatments, which are renowned for their efficacy. Evidence-based treatments such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) will help you make marked progress if you adhere to the treatment plan. 

Besides improving therapy outcomes, evidence-based treatment may lower the duration of treatment, consequently lowering your therapy costs. Brushing up on common treatments helps refine your search for a professional therapist.

6. Set Your Baseline 

Since going for therapy is a highly personal experience, you can get as personal as you wish when choosing a therapist. Some of the critical considerations to make when selecting a potential therapist include: 

Using factors such as gender, race, and religious background to set a baseline may feel uncomfortable. However, on closer inspection, you may notice that you feel more comfortable sharing your experiences and struggles with people of a particular gender, race, or cultural background. 

7. Reach Out to Your Preferred Therapists 

Once you identify therapists who meet your criteria, you can schedule a consultation call or initial appointment with them. Most therapists with Grow Therapy have availability within two days.

8. Assess Whether the Therapist Is a Good Fit

Use your consultation call or first appointment to interview the therapist and have them address your specific concerns. When assessing a therapist, enquire about their: 

The gist of a discovery session is to determine if a therapist is well-equipped to help you address your mental health issues. 

9. Go With Your Gut Instinct 

Establishing a therapeutic alliance is crucial to your mental wellness. Therefore, consider how you feel when talking with a prospective therapist. Do you feel heard? Are they empathetic? Do you feel comfortable or judged? Are they patient or brash? Alongside these analytical thoughts, consider your gut instinct and use your intuition to answer one primary question — how do you feel when interacting with this therapist? 

Working with a supportive therapist who makes you feel comfortable increases the likelihood of completing the treatment. Don’t brush off any potential red flags, as you need to forge a trusting relationship with your counselor to reap the benefits of therapy. 

10. Sign Up for at Least Three Sessions 

Once you decide on a therapist you like, consider signing up for three to five sessions. Doing so will allow you to thoroughly assess a therapist’s ability to meet your needs and determine whether they fit. 

Consider a therapist’s style and approach, and weigh any progress you’ve made when making the decision. However, you should remember that a therapist is supportive in this relationship. Therefore, you shouldn’t drop a good therapist simply because they continually push you outside your comfort zone. 

5 Things to Avoid When Searching for a Therapist

As you search for the best therapist, try to avoid the following:

Avoid Giving Up 

Searching for the right therapist can prove challenging and emotionally draining. Have someone help you with the search, or use online therapy platforms like Grow Therapy to streamline your search. A dedicated therapy platform simplifies the search process and saves you the hassle of combing multiple websites for contact information. Finding great mental health care may feel daunting, but the effort pays off. 

Avoid Going In Unprepared

Contrary to what most people expect, you shouldn’t sign up for therapy with a blank slate. Be clear on your needs before scheduling the first appointment. Setting therapy goals can help you determine the type of therapist you wish to work with and simplify the search process. 

Avoid Settling 

Searching for a therapist can be an overwhelming task, so you may be tempted to settle on the first available therapist who accepts your insurance. Unfortunately, settling may derail your mental health journey since therapists aren’t created equal. Establishing the right fit is critical to a successful outcome since a bad experience will likely turn you off therapy. 

Avoid Failing to Consult Your Insurer

Although many insurance companies cover therapy, they often impose coverage limitations. Consult your insurer to understand what your policy covers. Establish how much the policy pays per session and how many sessions are covered. Such information will guide your budgeting process and help you pick a therapist within your price range. You can also use the Grow Therapy cost estimator tool to get an idea of what you’ll pay per session based on your insurance.

Get a cost estimate

Check your coverage

Avoid Ignoring Your Instincts 

Therapists aren’t created equal, and each of them provides a different therapy experience. Trust your gut feeling when evaluating a prospective mental health care provider. Dedicated therapy platforms can help you overcome geographical limitations and increase your options. Don’t hesitate to find a new therapist if something feels off or you notice red flags

Simplify Your Search with Grow Therapy 

Searching for a good therapist may feel overwhelming, but having a roadmap can help you breeze through the entire process. Your choice of therapist matters because it influences your therapy experience and determines the likelihood of adhering to the treatment plan. You’re more likely to complete therapy when working with an empathetic therapist who uses evidence-based treatment to address mental health concerns. 

Connecting with the right therapist accelerates progress to help you achieve your therapy goals. Grow Therapy simplifies the search for a therapist by connecting you with thousands of therapists across the country who accept insurance and have a wide range of specialties and backgrounds. 

FAQs

  • If you're unhappy with your therapist, you may address the situation constructively by voicing your concerns. If that fails, consider looking for a different therapist who's a better fit.

  • You may consider seeing a therapist if you experience persistent emotional distress, struggle with relationships, or grapple with challenges that lower the quality of your life.

  • Red flags may include therapists who need more proper credentials, make unrealistic promises, offer limited treatment options, ignore boundaries, or make you uncomfortable.

About the author
Grow Therapy therapist Gregorio (Greg) Lozano III LPC Greg Lozano, LPC

Greg Lozano is a licensed professional counselor who specializes in working with individuals with severe mental illnesses such as depressive, bipolar, schizophrenia, and substance abuse conditions.

This article is not meant to be a replacement for medical advice. We recommend speaking with a therapist for personalized information about your mental health. If you don’t currently have a therapist, we can connect you with one who can offer support and address any questions or concerns. If you or your child is experiencing a medical emergency, is considering harming themselves or others, or is otherwise in imminent danger, you should dial 9-1-1 and/or go to the nearest emergency room.

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