If you are in the market for a therapist to help you get rid of some disturbing thoughts or feelings, the search can often seem daunting. Many people don't know what to look for in a therapist, and they may not know how to find the "right" one. This list is intended to help potential clients get a clearer sense of what to look for in a therapist, and the questions they can ask.
1. What is their specialty? If it's the same issue that you're concerned about, great! If not, ask what their experience has been in that area. Many times therapists may have a certain specialty, but they are able to work well with a variety of presenting issues!
2. How long do they expect therapy to take? If they have a clear sense of about how long most of their clients have been in therapy, and it fits in with what you're expecting, that's wonderful. If they either don't know or give you a vague answer, you may want to find someone who has a clearer sense of the time frame for therapy.
3. How do they work? That sounds like a pretty broad question, but the more specific a therapist can be about the way they work, their techniques, approaches, etc., the more you'll understand about the process itself, and the more prepared you'll be.
4. Ask what you can expect to gain from therapy. The answer may seem obvious (you want to feel better) but again, the more specific the therapist can be with you, the more clear you'll be on what to expect from the sessions.
5. How successful have they been with their work? You probably won't find many therapists who say they haven't been very successful, but the ones who are really good have an excellent sense of how good they really are, and they're usually very eager to talk about that. You'll hear a certain enthusiasm in their voices when they talk about their successes.
6. Do they have any testimonials, or even former clients you'd be able to talk to? Word-of-mouth is always the best way to find anyone, even if it's word-of-mouth from people you may not know personally.
7. And finally, probably the most important thing to look for in a therapist is how comfortable you feel with them. Even if you're just talking to them on the phone for the first time, do you get the sense that they're really listening to you? Does it feel like they "get" what you're talking about? If not, or if they sound rushed or unsure of themselves, you may want to look for another therapist. I would recommend that you speak to the therapist before setting up an appointment, rather than just email. The reason for this is that both you and the therapist can get a better sense of each other when there's the vocal element to the exchange.