How to choose the right therapist for you

You’ve decided to seek help, but what should you look for when choosing a therapist?

Finding the right therapist to help with your mental health need not be daunting as long as you do your research.

Therapy can be a helpful tool in managing and overcoming many mental health issues.

But it’s important to find a therapist who not only provides you with the right kind of support, but whom you feel comfortable and confident with. So how do you find that person?

Set clear goals

“Be mindful of what it is you want help with and be clear about what you think you need to see someone for,” advises Ros Knight, President of the Australian Psychological Society.

“If you’re going to do a Google search, look at different psychologists’ websites and see what they specialise in.”

Think local

Pick somebody who works close to where you live or work.

If you are going to have therapy sessions for a while, it will make it easier if you don’t have to travel too far.

Do your research

“Give the practice a call and talk to the therapist first, or talk to someone at the practice, and find out a little about the therapist,” Ros says.

“Ask them what an assessment will look like, how long sessions are, what they charge, what hours they are open and what view that particular therapist brings to a problem.”

Also, ask how much experience the therapist has in working with the issues you want to discuss.

Select carefully

Think about the kind of therapy you would like, suggests Maria Brett, chief executive of the Psychotherapy and Counselling Federation of Australia.

“A client might be interested in cognitive-behavioural therapy, narrative therapy and solution-focused counselling, couple’s counselling, family therapy, spiritually-informed counselling, somatic psychotherapy or Gestalt therapy – to name just a few of the many options available,” Maria says.

Ask for help

“If you’re not sure what kind of therapy interests you or would be most helpful, talk to a therapist who can help you get a clearer idea of what would be right for you,” Maria adds.

Look before you try

You can also check the therapist’s credentials to ensure they are properly trained and qualified.

The Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency has a section that allows you to check whether a practitioner is registered.

The Psychotherapy and Counselling Federation of Australia has a “find a therapist” function, while the Australian Psychological Society has a “find a psychologist” option.

If it’s not the right fit, it’s OK to change

If you begin therapy sessions but feel they aren’t working for you, it’s OK to look for a new therapist.

“If you don’t feel your therapist is providing what you want, explain that (to them) as they may simply have missed something.

“But if you feel you’re not being heard then look for a new therapist whom you feel can help you,” Ros says.

Written by Sarah Marinos.