How to choose a therapist

Be aware that choosing a therapist is an important decision because therapy involves a large commitment of time, energy, and money. Begin by getting the names of a few therapists. Then ask them some questions on the phone, including:

• Are you licensed and how long have you been practicing?
• Do you have an area of specialization? What is it?
• What therapeutic approach do you usually use?
• Offer the person a thumbnail sketch of what your problem is and then ask, Do you have experience with this kind of problem?
• What makes you think that your approach would be helpful for me?

If you are satisfied with the responses you get on the phone, schedule an appointment for an evaluation. In this initial meeting (or first few meetings), you will be asked to share more detailed information about your problem and yourself as a whole person. This information will help the therapist determine how to best help you.

It is important that you use this initial contact to decide whether you are comfortable with the therapist. Because psychotherapy is so personal, choosing a therapist with whom you have good rapport is very important. A therapist can be very good but still not be right for you.

Leslie Becker-Phelps, PhD
Basking Ridge, NJ