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How to Look for a Therapist

Updated on October 10, 2008

How to Look for a Therapist

How do you know when you or someone you care about needs a therapist? How do you find a therapist once you decide to seek one? Here are the following guidelines for evalutating whether you should seek a therapist and for finding a therapist.

Consider Therapy if …

  • You feel helpless and problems do not seem to get better despite your efforts.
  • You feel sad or blue, nervous, or tense for a prolonged period of time.
  • You or others notice changes in your ability to carry out everyday activities.
  • You are concerned about the emotional health of a family member or partner.
  • You want to look at life and make decisions in a different way.
  • You want to find ways of changing your life to feel more satisfied.

How do you find a Therapist?

  • Talk to friends and family
  • Call your local or state psychological association.
  • Contact your community mental health center
  • Inquire at your church or synagogue
  • Ask your physician or other health professional
  • Consult counseling centers at local colleges and universities
  • Consult your local Yellow pages

What Should you Consider When Making a Choice?

A therapist and client work together. The right match is important. The following are sample questions that may be useful when considering a particular psychologist.

  • Are you licensed psychologist?
  • How many years have you been practicing psychology?
  • I’ve been feeling (anxious , tense, depressed, etc.). I’m having problems (with my job, my marriage, eating, sleeping, etc.). What kind of experience do you have helping people with these types of problem?
  • What are your specialty areas? (children, marriage, etc.)
  • What might I expect during our sessions?
  • What are your fees?
  • Do you use sliding-fee scale? Please explain how it works
  • What types of insurance do you accept?
  • Do you accept Medicare/ Medicaid patients?
  • How do you bill for services? Will you bill my insurance company directly or do I bill for reimbursement?

Interview several therapist- by telephone or in person- before making a choice. Following the initial contact, you may want to meet two or three times before you decide to work together. These sessions, called consultation sessions, will help you determine if the therapist is right for you.

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