How to Pick a Counselor or Therapist By Chelsea Bagias, Psy.D.The most important thing about choosing a counselor or But the more you thinktherapist is to find a situation where you feel comfortable, about this idea thesafe, and where there is potential for trust. Consistently more you will start tothe most important criteria for successful therapy is the fit see how it reflects thebetween the therapist and client. When you meet with way you want others tosomeone that you “click with” you are more able to be treat you in general.honest with yourself and it’s much easier to talk about any Some ideas include:topic.Finding the right fit involves two separate parts. One is Recognize how much you want to be listened to and howlooking for characteristics in the therapist that you feel will much you want the counselor to engage in the talking.be a good match for you. The second is looking at yourself Ask yourself if you want the therapist to be like a caringand how you want to go about treatment at this moment in parent or more direct and blunt.your life. Characteristics in the counselor or therapist Youshould feel comfortable asking the counselor about things Would you feel ignored if the counselor didn’t suggest waysthat are important to you in working on your goals. These of solving your problem?can include: Do you want a therapist who talks about their own involve- ment with similar experience as yours or who keeps those Does the therapist have experience dealing with issues things out of the talk so they give you all of their attention? similar to the ones for which you want to enter treatment Most importantly- If you find a counselor who doesn’t meet (diagnosis, ethnicity, financial) your interests, could they still help you if you stick it out a What does the counselor believe about potential out- little longer? comes of your current situation (i.e. cure, recovery, hap- pier life, medication forever). Always recognize that you can change topics, goals, or What other areas of life does the therapist think may help therapists as your life changes too. While it does take a to improve things? • Does the counselor offer any infor- while to build trust and feel comfortable talking about your mation on local resources (i.e. free relaxation classes, life to someone, remember that therapy and counseling ex- helpful self-improvement ideas, nutrition referrals). ists to help you with what you want to work on. Does your therapist give homework or other tools to use between sessions? Overall remember that you are paying for a service. Whether Does the counselor focus on happiness and increasing you pay out of pocket or your insurance covers your bill, you joy as well as the negative topics? deserve to be treated with the utmost respect, and to be fully involved in your treatment. If you feel that this is not happen- ing please bring it up with your therapist. First it may helpSome views on psychological treatment believe it is a mis- seeing the problem from a different angle, second it mighttake for the therapist to share personal information with a resolve the problem all together, and third why not get someclient. But you as a client can always judge the therapist extra practice working out problems with people. Rememberby how they explain this to you and whether in your gut that you are choosing someone to be in your life for a whileyou get a good feeling from the therapist. The thing to re- to help you get where you want to be.member is that even if the counselor does not answer yourquestion completely, you learn a lot about the person bythe way they respond to you. The therapist or counselor is trained to help point out certain things about your personality and life situation, but you areWhat do you want out of treatment? Most people start always the ultimate expert on you. No matter what has hap-therapy because they want to feel better about something pened in your life and no matter what will come, you deserve to have the best treatment you can find. So be involved andin their life. So knowing how you want your counselor to get ready to do some work so you can start enjoying lifetreat you may be the last thing on your mind. again.Author’s BioChelsea Bagias is a doctor of psychology currently collecting hours as a psychological assistant (PSB 36064and PSB 36074). She is supervised in a local private practice by Rosa Di Lorenzo Psy.D. (PSY 24148) and atC.O.R.E. Medical Clinic by Randall Stenson M.D. (G-25548). Chelsea has a passion for working with peopleexperiencing intense challenges and believes all situations can find more peace and joy in life.