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Top 7 Ways To Find The Best Psychotherapist For You

By Karen Carnabucci

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You've got a problem and it won't go away. You think you need a psychotherapist. But what's the next step? Picking the best professional for you is your first important decision. Therapists are people who are trained to guide people as they grow and change. You’ll find that there are many approaches to “doing” therapy as well as folks with many different degrees, credentials and professional training. Here are seven points to keep in mind:

  1. Information about the therapy process will help prevent mismatches and increase chances of finding a competent professional who you can trust to guide you through the difficulties you are experiencing. Learn about the styles of psychotherapy and the kinds of professionals who offer this service.

  2. A good way to find a therapist is to ask a friend who’s had similar problems and has been helped by therapy. The name of her (or his) therapist is a good starting point. Or you may ask a trusted professional for several names of therapists who specialize in working with your particular problem. You also may wish to call a local organization to ask about its referral list or attend free programs where therapists are presenting a program.

  3. Talk to several therapists before deciding. Therapists usually are willing to speak by phone and answer questions about their training, experience and approach as well as views on medication, payment policies and referral options. This will give you information about each person as well as a feeling of how each relates and communicates.

  4. You may ask for names of books that will give information about his or her philosophy. Again, you will not only learn about his or her way of working, you will also get a sense of the match.

  5. Sometimes people make a contract for a “trial run” — a limited number of sessions — to get a better feel for the relationship.

  6. Although some uneasiness is expected in talking to someone new, pay attention if your questions or feelings are dismissed as trivial.

  7. Therapy is not a quick fix and does not always feel “good.” However, it is reasonable to expect a sense of hope to emerge as you begin to explore yourself and your concerns.

Karen Carnabucci, MSS, LCSW, TEP, is a licensed social worker, psychotherapist and trainer of non-traditional psychotherapy in Racine, Wis. See for more about Karen, her directory of resources for holistic health professionals and her free e-newsletter, Whole Person Practice.

Article Submitted On: November 14, 2004