How to Choose a Therapist


Mental health is something that you need to take seriously. It’s just as important as — and closely connected to — your physical health. Just as you visit a doctor regularly for a check-up, you should also be visiting a mental health care provider, be it a therapist, psychologist, or psychiatrist.

But if you’ve never visited a mental health care provider before, you might feel overwhelmed by the options. How can you choose a therapist to rely on? Here are a few tips to help you make the call.

Ask for recommendations

Therapists aren’t all the same, and it can be tough to find out which have the best reputation. We don’t always talk about mental health as openly as we should, and that includes talking about mental health care providers and our experiences with them.

With that said, consider asking friends and family members if they have any recommendations. If you’re not comfortable doing that, look online for reviews or turn to your primary care provider to see if they have a particular mental health care provider that they’d recommend. You may also want to ask your primary care provider to write you a referral — it could save you some money with your health insurance provider.

Take your own recommendation, too. If you visit a therapist and don’t feel comfortable, you should switch to a different one. It may take you a few tries to find the right fit, and that’s OK.

Focus on specialties

There are a lot of therapists out there, but not all of them are specialists in the same sorts of conditions. While some are dedicated generalists, others have trained their whole careers to become the best of the best at tackling certain types of issues, stress, or mental health conditions.

For instance, some therapists specialize in addiction. These therapists understand how addiction can play into other conditions like depression, and will be better equipped to help you work through your specific challenges.

Think about what you need, want, and expect from your therapist. If you’re looking for gay couple therapy, you’re going to want a LGBTQ-affirming therapist who specializes in relationships and couples therapy. If you’re looking for individual therapy sessions for depression, you’ll have a whole other set of priorities.

Look on professionals’ websites and call up offices to learn more about the specialties of the therapists that you are considering. You can get additional help from online guides and apps that help you find specific sorts of therapists, such as the aforementioned LGBTQ-affirming therapists.

Check with your insurance company

Far too few of us get the mental health care that we need. There are a lot of reasons for this, but looming large among them is the (perceived) cost of treatment. It’s no secret that health care is expensive here in the United States, and many of us are reluctant to add another health-related bill to our budget.

But you can afford therapy. If you have health insurance, there’s a good chance that your treatment will be largely covered by your policy. To be sure, though, you’ll want to check with your health insurance provider. You may find a list of mental health care providers on your health insurance company’s website, or you may want to give your insurance provider a call to ask some questions. Be sure to find out if you need a referral from your primary care provider in order to get your treatment covered.

Getting the mental health care that you need won’t always feel easy. But taking the necessary steps to connect with a mental health care provider is important, and getting the treatment that you need can transform your life.