How to Choose a Therapist

Choosing a therapist (Posed by models)

The journey towards emotional well-being and personal growth can benefit from finding the right therapist. As a counsellor working online, I understand the significance of connecting with a professional who can offer support, and empathy. The purpose of this article is to help you navigate the process of choosing a therapist who can best meet your unique needs and preferences. With the correct support, therapy can be a transformative experience, so let’s begin our exploration of how to make the most informed decision.

What should a person look for when selecting a therapist?

Professional qualifications

When searching for a therapist, it’s important to ensure they have the necessary qualifications and are registered with an accredited organisation, such as the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) or the UK Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP). These qualifications indicate that the therapist has completed a comprehensive training programme and adheres to ethical standards.

Specialisations and areas of expertise

Therapists often have particular areas of expertise or specialisations, such as trauma, anxiety, depression, or relationship issues. Some, like me, may also specialise in working with certain groups of people, such as those who identify as LGBTQ+.

Identify your specific needs and seek a therapist with experience in those areas, as they will likely have a more in-depth understanding of your concerns and can provide tailored support.

Personal qualities and characteristics

A therapist’s personal qualities are crucial to fostering a strong therapeutic relationship. Look for someone who is empathetic, non-judgmental, and respectful. Additionally, consider whether you prefer a therapist who is more directive or one who takes a more collaborative approach.

Accessibility and location

Finally, consider the therapist’s availability and location. Online counselling has become increasingly popular, providing flexibility and access to a wider range of professionals. However, if you prefer in-person sessions, ensure the therapist’s office is conveniently located and has suitable hours.

Affordability and approach

Checking that the therapist sets their fees at a point that is affordable for you, and that they work in a way that aligns with your needs and values, is a factor that cannot be overlooked.

3 signs you are seeing a good therapist

  1. They create a safe and non-judgmental environment. A good therapist will foster a safe space for you to express your thoughts and feelings openly. They will listen attentively, validate your emotions, and provide an environment where you feel comfortable discussing difficult topics.
  1. They communicate clearly and effectively. Effective communication is key to a successful therapeutic relationship. A good therapist will be able to explain their approach, encourage open dialogue, and will be receptive to your concerns and feedback.
  1. They show empathy and understanding. A reliable therapist will be able to empathise with your experiences and emotions, demonstrating genuine care and understanding. They will be sensitive to your needs and adapt their approach accordingly, ensuring that you feel heard and supported.

How do I choose a counsellor or therapist?

Research different therapy approaches

Begin by familiarising yourself with various therapeutic approaches, such as cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT), psychodynamic therapy, and person-centred therapy. Understanding these approaches will help you determine which one aligns with your needs and preferences.

Seek recommendations from friends, family, or professionals

Personal recommendations can be invaluable when searching for a therapist. Speak to friends, family members, or professionals you trust, such as your GP, for suggestions.

Browse online directories

Online directories, such as the BACP or UKCP websites, can help you find therapists in your area. Read reviews and testimonials to gain insight into others’ experiences with the therapist.

Schedule initial consultations

Once you’ve narrowed down your options, schedule initial consultations or interviews with potential therapists. Use this opportunity to ask questions, discuss your concerns, and evaluate whether you feel comfortable with the therapist.

How do you tell if a therapist is a good match?

Assess your level of comfort with the therapist

Trust your instincts when assessing your level of comfort with a therapist. Feeling comfortable and at ease with your therapist is essential for fostering a strong therapeutic relationship. Pay attention to how you feel during the initial consultation, as this can be a good indicator of whether the therapist is a good match.

Evaluate their ability to understand your concerns

A good therapist will be able to understand your concerns and provide appropriate support. During your initial interactions, consider whether the therapist listens attentively, validates your feelings, and offers helpful insights or suggestions.

Determine if their approach aligns with your goals

Ensure that the therapist’s approach aligns with your personal goals and preferences. For example, if you prefer a more structured and goal-oriented approach, a therapist who specialises in cognitive-behavioural therapy may be more suitable than one who focuses on psychodynamic therapy.

What questions to ask when interviewing a therapist?

Inquire about their qualifications and experience

Ask about the therapist’s qualifications, registration with professional organisations, and their experience in working with clients who have similar concerns to yours.

Ask about their therapeutic approach

Discuss the therapist’s approach to therapy, including their preferred therapeutic modalities and how they typically structure sessions.

Discuss fees, cancellations, and payment options

Inquire about session fees, when and how you pay, and what happens if you need to cancel a session or happen to miss one. Many therapists take radically different approaches to the topic of fees, so don’t be afraid to ask.

Request information about session frequency and duration

Ask about the typical duration of therapy sessions and how often they recommend meeting to address your concerns effectively. If that doesn’t work for you, consider sharing your thoughts to see how they respond.

How to choose a therapist: what should I tell my therapist first?

Share your reasons for seeking therapy

Begin by discussing your reasons for seeking therapy, including the specific concerns or challenges you’re facing. This will provide your therapist with a foundation for understanding your needs.

Discuss any past experiences with therapy

If you’ve had previous therapy experiences, share these with your therapist. Discuss what worked well or didn’t work in past therapeutic relationships, as this can help your therapist tailor their approach to better suit your needs.

Outline your expectations and goals

Share your expectations and goals for therapy, including what you hope to achieve and the issues you’d like to address. This will ensure that both you and your therapist clearly understand your desired outcomes.

Is it worth getting counselling?

Benefits of counselling

Counselling can provide a safe space to explore your thoughts and emotions, develop coping strategies, improve relationships, and enhance overall well-being. Many people find counselling to be a valuable resource for personal growth and healing.

Addressing misconceptions and fears

Some individuals may be hesitant to seek counselling due to misconceptions, such as the belief that it’s only for those with severe mental health issues or that it’s a sign of weakness. However, counselling can be beneficial for anyone facing challenges or seeking support, and seeking help is a sign of strength and self-awareness.

Factors to consider before pursuing counselling

Consider your personal needs, goals, and preferences when deciding whether counselling is the right choice for you. Reflect on the issues you’re facing, your desired outcomes, and whether you’re open to engaging in the counselling process.

You probably won’t be surprised to hear me or my colleagues advocate for the benefits of counselling. But whether it is worth it for you personally will depend on numerous variables. Counselling is one form of mental health support. You might find it equally beneficial to join a social group, take up a new activity, speak with a good friend, engage in a nourishing activity, take up exercise, quit a habit, etc. What works for one person may not work for another, so allow yourself to be curious and reflective on what helps and what doesn’t.

How long does it take to feel comfortable with a therapist?

The time it takes to feel comfortable with a therapist varies from person to person and depends on factors such as individual personalities, communication styles, and the nature of the issues being addressed. For some, trust may develop quickly, while for others, it might take much longer.

To foster a strong therapeutic relationship, be open and honest with your therapist, ask questions, and discuss any concerns or discomfort that arise during the sessions. Remember that building trust takes time, and it’s essential to be patient with yourself and your therapist.

If you continue to feel uncomfortable or uneasy with your therapist after several sessions, give yourself permission to address these feelings. Discuss your concerns with the therapist, and if the issues remain unresolved, consider exploring alternative therapists who may be a better fit.

There are countless wonderful therapists out there, but no single therapist can be right for everyone. I believe, however, that everyone can find a therapist who is right for them.

When should I find a new therapist?

Identifying signs of a poor therapeutic relationship

If you consistently feel unheard, misunderstood, or disrespected by your therapist, it may be an indication that the therapeutic relationship is not a good fit. Other signs of a poor fit may include a lack of progress, disagreements about treatment goals or approaches, or feeling that your therapist is unable to empathise with your experiences.

Evaluating your progress and satisfaction with therapy

Take the time to reflect on your progress and satisfaction with therapy. If you feel that your needs are not being met or that your therapist is not helping you achieve your goals, it may be time to consider finding a new therapist.

How to approach the process of finding a new therapist

When seeking a new therapist, begin by identifying the qualities or characteristics that are most important to you, based on your previous experiences. Utilise the strategies outlined earlier in this article, such as researching therapy approaches, seeking recommendations, and scheduling initial consultations, to find a therapist who is a better match for your needs and preferences.


Finding the right therapist can be a crucial step in your journey towards emotional well-being and personal growth. By considering factors such as professional qualifications, specialisations, personal qualities, and accessibility, and by taking the time to interview and assess potential therapists, you can find a professional who can best support your unique needs. Remember that building a strong therapeutic relationship takes time, and it’s essential to be patient and open to the process. With the right therapist, therapy can be a transformative experience that enhances your life and well-being.

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