What, Exactly, Should I Look For in a Therapist? 3 Important Factors

What, Exactly, Should I Look For in a Therapist?

by Katie DiMuzio

Wondering what you should look for in a therapist?

It’s helpful to keep in mind that everyone’s needs are different – meaning there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to therapy. What is universally important, however, is making sure you connect with the right therapist for you.

Here are three main components to consider when you begin your therapist search.

1. Cost, location, and scheduling

Therapy will only work if it works for you. Before making an appointment, ask yourself honestly:

  • Can I afford these session fees? The cost of therapy ranges depending on location, practitioner, and whether you’re using insurance.

  • Can I commit to attending sessions regularly? Remember to account for travel time, and other demands in your schedule.

  • Do the therapists’ available times work for me? Some therapists offer evening and weekend appointments if you have an otherwise limited schedule.

2. Credentials and specializations

Therapists differ in their degree types, specializations, and therapy approaches. When looking for the right therapist for you, ask yourself:

  • Am I considering medication, and thus need a provider who can prescribe? (e.g., a psychiatrist or nurse practitioner.)

  • Do I want a provider with a particular area of expertise (eg. art therapy, couples counseling)?

  • Do I want someone with a particular credential (e.g., a Ph.D.)?

Not sure which type of practitioner is right for you? Here’s the difference between a therapist, psychiatrist, and life coach.

3. The personality fit – a.k.a., therapeutic alliance

While personality fit is more of a nuanced factor than, say, scheduling availability, it may be critical to your success in therapy. Multiple studies have revealed the importance of this factor, often referred to as “therapeutic alliance.”

On your initial phone call with the therapist, ask yourself:

  • Could I see myself forming a connection with this therapist?

  • Does their approach suit my personality?

  • Do I feel like I will be heard and respected by this therapist?

Additionally, consider these factors:

  • Some therapists are more reflective and spend most of the session listening and drawing insights about your patterns and coping styles.

  • Some therapists are more directive, establishing weekly agendas and assigning tasks to complete between sessions.

  • Some utilize specific techniques or tools (exposure exercises, eye movements, tapping, breath work, guided imagery, art and music, etc.).

  • Some use a combination of multiple approaches.

Ready to start therapy? Check out Zencare.co to see therapists’ availability, watch their introductory videos, and book free initial calls with potential therapists.

Katie DiMuzio

Katie DiMuzio, LCSW, is the Partnerships Manager at Zencare. Through her work as a licensed clinician, Katie discovered how hard it is for people to learn about and access high quality therapy. This brought her to Zencare, where she is leading partnerships in the community to ensure Zencare is reaching those who need it.