Shopping for a Therapist?

by Peg Haust-Arliss Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Peg Haust-ArlissPeg Haust-Arliss is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Certified Cognitive Therapist specializing in anxiety disorders. She has a private practice in Seneca Falls, NY. For more information about Peg and her services, visit her website at 

When it comes to choosing a therapist I look at it this way; finding the right therapist is like trying on new running shoes. Sometimes you find a pair that fit just right first try but, sometimes you have to try on a couple pair and compare the fit, or sometimes you have to run around the block a couple of times to be sure of the fit. 

I find it helpful to look at it this way especially if you have had therapists before that did not seem particularly helpful for you. Very likely, the therapist that was not right for you was just right for someone else! 

So, how do you begin? 

I suggest, before calling that first prospective therapist, prepare with a list of questions. Ask yourself: 

  • What do I hope to accomplish with sessions?
  • What are my expectations for therapy and for the therapist?
  • What I am hoping to gain; support? direction? tools? skills?

The more specific you are about what you want out of sessions the easier it will be to find the right therapist for you. 

Next, call prospective therapists. Don't be afraid to ask them questions pertaining to how they can help you; after all, they will have plenty of questions for you! You might ask: 

  • This is what I want to accomplish in sessions; have you had success helping others with this? 
  • Do you have a specialty? 
  • How often can I be seen? 

Don't forget to ask about payment and insurance too. And check out their website if they have one. 

If you are comfortable you can also ask your doctor, friends, and family who they might suggest in your area. 

Finally, assess how you feel after talking with a potential therapist or their office for the first time. Did they welcome your questions and answer confidently? 

Remember, finding the right therapist, like finding the right running shoe, is vital to comfort, performance AND results. So, if the shoe fits...



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