How to Find the Right Therapist

William L. Blout, LICSW - President, HelpPRO

Finding the right therapist can be a difficult and frustrating task. This website, and the suggestions below, will make this task easier and more likely successful.

The process of finding the best therapist can be reduced to three basic steps: (1) decide what you need from therapy, (2) generate a list of therapists who can best meet these needs, and (3) make sure you have a “good fit” with the therapist you select.

Step 1: Decide what you need from therapy

This is the first, and perhaps the most difficult step, especially for people who are new to therapy. I recommend that you start by asking yourself “What is it that I want from therapy?” Try to identify your important goals for therapy. What are you looking to change in behavior, relationships and feelings.

Think about what factors that may be contributing to your difficulties: family history, patterns of behavior, or alcohol and other substance use. If possible, assess the severity of the problem. Is this something that may require a long time to change, or would a focused, time-limited approach be best? Do you think medicine might help? Is it career related or part of a life transition?

Consider who else might be involved in therapy. For instance, is this a couple or marital issue, or a family problem? Does it involve your child? Would a support group be more helpful than individual therapy?

Answering these questions will help prepare you to find a person best qualified to meet your needs. Having a good idea of what you need from therapy, will help you identify what specialties, experience and special training you are seeking in a therapist. You can then decide if a woman, a couples counselor, or a child therapist would be best.

Step 2: Get a list of therapists who best meet these needs

A few years ago it would have been impossible to get a list of therapists who match your specific needs. The yellow pages and health care provider directories offer very limited information about therapists. Now there is a place to find the most comprehensive information about thousands of therapists and services across the country.

At, you can search a huge database of information and in minutes generate a list of therapists who best match your specific needs. This site allows you to find therapists located nearby your home or work who take a range of payment options, including health insurance, specialize in a various problems, focus on a particular age group or population, speak another languages, have evening office hours, can make home visits, have a special degrees or certifications, and so forth.

Step 3: Make sure you have a "good fit"

After you have your list, a recommendation from your physician, school counselor or a therapist friend can be extremely valuable in narrowing down your choices. It is always better to get referrals recommendations from more than one source if possible.

Good “chemistry” between therapist and client is essential to effective therapy. Most therapists realize that a “good fit” is often a question of professional style and personality. Many offer an initial interview before engaging in therapy, sometimes without charge. I recommend having at least a telephone interview with a minimum of three prospective therapists. Don’t be afraid to “shop around”. Let the therapist know that you are talking to several other therapists before deciding.

Be prepared to ask questions based on your goals for therapy. Also you might want to have a standard set of questions about fees, credentials, length of therapy, confidentiality, and professional philosophy and style. Ultimately, you need to feel a high level of trust and comfort, knowing you have found the right therapist.