How to find a good psychologist

How to find a good psychologist

When you think of a psychologist you immediately conjure up an image of someone who is patient, a good listener and has a great deal of compassion. While these are important qualities to possess in order to be a good psychologist, there are many other critical characteristics that one must have in order to become a successful psychologist. So, what are the most important personality traits to pursue this career? According to The United States Bureau of Labor Occupational Handbook, there are seven traits and skill sets necessary to become an excellent psychologist.

Psychologists Must Possess Analytical Skills

In order for any mental health professional to help their clients, they must be able to draw inferences, analyze and examine the information they gather. Being a psychologist is more than just listening to people’s problems. They must gather data about the individual or family seeking help, and use that information to help create solutions for change.

Psychologists Must Possess Communication Skills

One of the most important skills sets a psychologist must possess is good communication skills. They must be able to communicate with clients, other mental health and medical professionals, staff members and other important people. They must be able to communicate their thoughts and plans of action effectively.

Psychologists Must Possess Observational Skills

Much of psychological practice goes beyond talking to making keen observations. Most psychologists can gather a great deal of information about an individual or family simply by watching their interactions. Things like body language, facial expressions and mannerisms can tell a much larger story than words.

Psychologists Must Possess Patience

In order to be an effective mental health professional you must possess a great deal of patience. In many cases you are helping individuals work through challenging issues, which can take a great deal of time. It is important to let clients work at their own pace and this can be an arduous task without a great deal of perseverance.

Psychologists Must Possess People Skills

Because the field of psychology involves working with people each and every day, possessing good and effective people skills is imperative. Becoming a practicing psychologist is a career for people who like to work directly with others.

Psychologists Must Possess Problem-Solving Skills

Many times, individuals and families seek the help of a psychologist because they lack the skills to solve problems they are experiencing on their own. It is because of this that a psychologist must have excellent problem-solving skills. Sometimes the solutions to problems are simple but in many cases arriving at a solution will take creativity and ingenuity.

Psychologists Must Possess Trustworthiness

One last necessary quality is trustworthiness. If a client feels like they cannot trust their mental health professional there will never be a good rapport. Building a rapport between client and practitioner is the only way to build a trusting and effective therapeutic relationship.

While these characteristics are necessary to become a psychologist there are many other that make an outstanding practitioner. Things like empathy, respect, good intuition and nurturing skills are all things that make the ideal candidate to become a psychologist. If these are skills and characteristics that you possess you may want to look into the many different paths you can pursue with a degree in psychology.

Finding a good therapist can be a process.

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If you’re considering therapy, finding the right therapist is the first hurdle to cross. Researchers have found that the bond between you and your therapist is likely to have a big impact on your growth. That’s why it’s important to do your research, ask questions, and pay attention to your own responses in your search for the therapist that’s right for you.

How to Find a Good Therapist in 5 Steps

Finding a therapist that you connect with can be a process, but don’t give up if the first one doesn’t work out. Here are a few solid steps to follow.

1. Streamline Your Search

There are many different avenues you can take to find the right therapist. If you plan to pay for therapy through your insurance plan, look through your plan’s provider network. Find out whether your plan limits the number of sessions you can attend each year and whether using an out-of-network therapist will affect your out-of-pocket costs.

You can also look through online databases. A number of mental health organizations maintain up-to-date, searchable databases of licensed therapists. (American Psychological Association has a good one.) Just type in your ZIP code to generate a list of counselors in your area. You may also be able to search for specialists, like marriage and family counselors or therapists who focus on drug and alcohol use.

And don’t forget about local resources. If you’re a student, your school might provide access to a counseling center. If you’re employed, your human resources team might offer a list of therapists available through a workplace wellness or employee assistance program.If you want your faith to inform your treatment, you might consider reaching out to your place of worship for a list of licensed therapists affiliated with your faith.

2. Find a Fit For You

If you’re looking for a therapist to help with a specific mental health issue, you might find local therapists through a national association, network, or helpline, like the National Eating Disorders Association or National Center for PTSD.

If your job is a source of stress and anxiety, you might find local therapists through a professional organization. Many of these organizations and trade unions have resources to help you identify professionals who can assist with mental health needs. (The International Association of Firefighters, for example, offers help with mental health, PTSD, and substance abuse.)

Access to culture-conscious therapists is an important factor, as well. Here are some resources for people of color to consider when looking for a therapist: The Yellow Couch Collective (an online support group for Black women); The National Asian American Pacific Islander Mental Health Association (a nonprofit dedicated to the mental health and well-being of the Asian American and Pacific Islander communities); and WeRNative (which provides Native American youth with tools for holistic health and growth, including mental health resources).

3. Consider Going Online

One “good” thing to come out of the pandemic? A change in how we go about the therapy process. A study published in JAMA Psychiatry found that internet-based cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) helped patients manage fear and anxiety just as well as a 45-minute in-person session by using a self-guided instructional book combined with weekly 10-minute therapy sessions conducted on a secure platform. Another study found that people with depression felt that their symptoms improved after online sessions.

“Therapist-guided online CBT is based on the same strategies and exercises [as in person therapy], and patients can interact with the treatment content at any time of day,” says lead author Erland Axelsson, Ph.D., licensed psychologist at Karolinska Institute in Solna, Sweden. And because health anxiety is similar in nature to other forms of anxiety, Axelsson believes it also could apply to a broader population.

Some people find a digital therapy platform to be more convenient and more affordable than in-person therapy. Weekly sessions range from $35 to $80 for online therapy. Talkspace and Betterhelp both offer tools to help you explore the kind of therapy you want. They can also match you with a licensed, accredited therapist you can work with online or via phone.

4. Ask Lots of Questions

About things that matter to you! It’s not uncommon to completely forget every question you wanted to ask. Keep your notes app ready and jot down a few things ahead of time.

Don’t know what to ask? Here are some questions the American Psychological Association and Anxiety and Depression Association of America suggest considering during your first session:

  • Are you a licensed psychologist in this state?
  • How many years have you been in practice?
  • How much experience do you have working with people who are dealing with [the issue you’d like to resolve]?
  • What kinds of treatments have you found effective in resolving [the issue you’d like to resolve]?
  • What insurance do you accept?
  • Will I need to pay you directly and then seek reimbursement from my insurance company, or do you bill the insurance company?
  • Do you accept Medicare or Medicaid?
  • If I need medication, can you prescribe it or recommend someone who does?
  • Do you provide access to telehealth services?
  • How soon can I expect to start feeling better?
  • What do we do if our treatment plan isn’t working?

5. Pay Attention to How You Feel

No matter how many professional accreditations your therapist has, your own feelings of trust and comfort should be your top priority. Will therapy be uncomfortable from time to time? Possibly. But if you feel uncomfortable with your therapist for any other reason, it’s all right to look for someone else. Here are a few things to notice as you talk with your therapist:

  • Does the therapist interrupt you, or do they listen carefully to what you’re saying?
  • How does your body feel during a therapy session? Do you feel tense?
  • Does the therapist respect your time by being prompt to appointments?
  • Does the therapist brush off or invalidate your concerns?
  • Do you feel seen, heard, and respected during your session?

It’s a new year, you’ve set new goals, and you’ve decided it’s time to go to therapy. Now what? Entering “find therapist” into your google search window is not going to help. There are a lot of therapists out there, but finding the right one for you can be as daunting as trying to find a good date online.

After more than 15 years of seeing a variety of therapists myself, I’ve had my share of bad experiences. I once met with a therapist who greeted me at the door dripping sweat and dressed like Run-D.M.C. (sans gold chain), straight from the gym. And while I don’t think a therapist’s outfit is a reflection of competence, I do appreciate a person who cools down first and dresses in a professional manner. And then there was the woman whose first question was “So, what’s wrong with you?” Not exactly the best way to create a sense of safety.

But don’t let me scare you off, I’ve also had amazing, life-altering, not-sure-what-I-would’ve-done-without-’em therapists. So even if it sounds like you have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find your “theraprince,” the result is definitely worth it. Below you will find my top five tips for how to find an awesome therapist.

(Still not sure therapy is for you? Check out my top five reasons why everyone should go to therapy.)

1) Ask People You Trust For Recommendations
Asking people you trust for recommendations is a great place to start. This could be a friend, family member, coworker or other health professional. If someone you trust can make a referral, this can act as a prescreening process. If you have a friend or family member who is a therapist, they would also be a good person to ask as well. Therapists tend to have good information about other reputable people.

2) Pick a Specialist if Necessary
Think about why you are seeking help and if necessary, find someone who specializes in treating your particular issue. If you are struggling with something very specific like OCD, ADHD, addiction or an eating disorder, it is very important that you see someone who specializes in the treatment of these disorders. There are evidence-based protocols which are used specifically to successfully treat issues like those listed above. If you are seeing someone who doesn’t have specific training in your issues, you might be wasting your time and money. Also, someone who claims to be an expert in everything is likely an expert in nothing. The field of mental health is just too broad for any of us to be experts in all issues, so beware of someone who claims such things.

3) Use the Web, But Don’t Be Limited By It
The web is a great resource for locating and learning more about local therapists. Psychology Today has a comprehensive listing of therapists and allows you to search based on several different factors. To be listed on Psychology Today, therapists must prove that they have an advanced degree and up-to-date professional license. You can read profiles or click through to individual therapist websites. If you are immediately turned off by someone’s tone, listen to your gut and keep searching. Just make sure you are looking in industry-appropriate locations. For example, Yelp is great for restaurants, but the same principle doesn’t apply to therapy. Finding a good therapist is a lot more nuanced than finding out which restaurant makes the best duck-fat fried Brussels sprouts.

4) Interview People Who Might Seem Like a Good Fit
Once you’ve narrowed down your list of potentials, give them a call. Get a feel for what they are like on the phone. Do you feel comfortable talking with them? Do they seem interested and empathetic? In addition, you might ask the following questions:
A) What is your style like?
This is important. Even if someone is a very skilled therapist, his or her style may not jive with yours. Try to get a feel for what it would be like to be in the room with the person. Are they active and engaged or will you be doing most of the majority of talking? Will they be giving you homework or will all the “work” happen in the sessions themselves?
B) Do you have experience working with my issue? If we were working together on this issue what can I expect?
You want to make sure that the therapist has familiarity and is comfortable working with the issue that brought you to therapy.
C) What is your theoretical orientation?
There are many different schools of thought in psychology and each therapist approaches problems differently based on their training and theoretical orientation. For example, a psychodynamic therapist might focus on childhood history, dreams and the unconscious roots of your behavior, while a cognitive behavioral therapist will help you identify problematic thoughts and help you shift those thoughts and their resulting behaviors. There are many different ways to approach the same issue, and while you may have no idea specifically what style you want or need, make sure that what the therapist is proposing is something that sounds aligned to your personality and needs.

(For a more detailed description of some of the most popular types of therapy click here.)

5) The Relationship Is More Important Than the Resume
Don’t be overly focused on finding someone with long list of accomplishments. Just because a therapist has written several books or has a busy public speaking schedule, it doesn’t mean that they are the right fit for you. Research has found that the most effective therapists build strong therapeutic relationships with their clients and have highly developed interpersonal skills including warmth, acceptance, empathy and the ability to accurately identify how a client is feeling. So give more weight to how you feel in the room with the therapist, rather than their list of accomplishments.

Now that you are armed with strategies for finding a great fit I wish you the best of luck in your search. I hope you find the therapeutic experience as rewarding and life altering as I have. Happy therapist hunting!

Most parents who have spent time watching their children develop and grow can attest to the idea that the process is a fascinating one; from observing children learn how to walk and speak to witnessing their social interactions and self-exploration at school and beyond, the process of learning and maturing is both complex and exciting. Child psychology is a field that attempts to investigate and understand the development of the human mind during childhood and adolescence, with many applications to treatment options and special programs to help improve, heal, and uplift the lives of young people. Child psychology may be encountered in an academic environment, or may be experienced as the underlying science involved in child psychotherapy and other types of mental health care.

The field of child psychology shares many aspects with other types of psychology and studies of the human mind and consciousness, while retaining a distinct focus on human development as it applies to kids. One of the most exciting times in life biologically speaking, childhood is rich in significant physical, emotional, and mental changes, all of which can have a profound impact upon quality of life and experience. When studying child psychology, an expert or other professional may look at the operation of the brain itself, might investigate physical responses to certain stimuli, or may observe how children interact with others or consider themselves. The study of child psychology attempts to find answers to many of today’s most pressing social questions, such as whether a person’s behavior and set of circumstances is primarily a result of their innate nature, or the environment in which they are raised.

Child psychology easily lends itself to private practice, and most areas are home to a number of licensed and certified specialists who focus on applying their knowledge to practical observation and treatment for children experiencing difficulties. Finding a child psychologist is often performed through inquiring with a family doctor or general practice physician, who may be able to provide a list of local recommended experts. When wondering how to find a child psychologist, parents and guardians can also take advantage of online and word-of-mouth reviews from peers and colleagues, or may be able to locate the best child psychologists through a top psychologist directory.

The concern of how to find a child psychologist in my area should be directed towards not only finding an affordable option, but towards seeking out a good and caring individual who displays an earnest interest in helping children heal and grow. Through paying close attention to background and qualifications as well as general outlook, parents can ensure that their children receive the best of what modern child psychology has to offer young people and their families. As advances in this critical scientific field continue and insights are made into the underlying factors involved in growing up, children are bound to benefit from enhanced assistance and treatment from child psychologists.

How to find a good psychologist

Last update: 13 March, 2018

The time has come. For whatever reason, you have decided to seek psychological help. But you don’t know how to choose the right psychologist out of all the psychologists out there. How can you pick the right one?

After all, we all know someone who has gone to a psychologist and not seen results. Your friend went to his appointments for a few months and the only thing he did was vent. He didn’t learn how to handle discomfort or deal with situations more appropriately. Keep reading to find out how to distinguish the good ones from the bad ones and choose the right psychologist!

“All people speak of the mind without hesitation, but they are perplexed when you ask them to define it.”

What are the signs of an unreliable psychologist?

One of our main problems is the amount of people who hand out psychological advice without a degree in psychology. Therefore, if we want to choose the right psychologist, the first thing we must look at is their qualifications and degree.

We must take special care to look at their qualifications given all the alternative movements emerging to treat emotional problems like anxiety. There are new “miraculous” therapies that “heal” without doing anything. Reiki and Bach flower remedies are examples of therapies that have not been scientifically proven to be effective.

Even when looking for a therapist who is a psychologist, you have to be careful. There are many who are not good. I myself have seen a lot of patients who had gone to therapy before, but according to them it didn’t work at all.

How did they describe their sessions to me? They said they talked and talked without the psychologist contributing anything to the conversation. Patients feel relieved after talking, but over time they see that nothing changes. In the long run, the problem is still there; it just went away momentarily in the office.

Logically, the therapist has to do something. But not only ask questions. Psychologists who only do this are not good either. A good psychologist does more than ask questions. He or she also explains how mental processes work and gives the patient tools to manage them.

What questions can we ask in order to choose the right psychologist?

In group therapy, I’ve found participants who, after I explained all this to them, have then asked me: how can we know ahead of time if a psychologist is bad? It’s very simple. To choose the right psychologist, we can ask questions.

You don’t have to be embarrassed. After all, you’re going to spend money on these sessions. It is your right to make sure you will be getting something worthwhile in return.

First, they should inform you of their degree and qualifications. Then you should find out what kind of psychology they practice. If the psychologist says he practices cognitive-behavioral psychology, it’s a good sign. The techniques of this method have been proven empirically. That is, they have stood up to scientific scrutiny.

“The great discovery of my generation is that human beings can alter their lives by altering their mental attitudes.”

This is a very important aspect, since there are many schools of psychology that use methods that do not actually help patients. In fact, some of them create a bigger psychological problemthan the one the patient had in the beginning.

But be careful. Even if I practice cognitive-behavioral psychology, I may be a bad therapist. Therefore, when choosing the right psychologist, we will also have to ask about their specific methods and treatments they use. We have the right to know what the plan will be as well as the goals we’ll be shooting for.

What should therapy look like?

When we ask the psychologist how he carries out the process of therapy, there are certain answers that will indicate whether he will really help us overcome our problem. For one, therapy should be structured.

A good psychologist does an evaluation and then comes up with a treatment plan. In general, the evaluation is done in the first two sessions and, based on the results, they come up with the objectives to be reached and the means that will be used.

“I guess it’s tempting to treat everything as if it were a nail, if the only tool you have is a hammer.”

An example of good therapeutic process is if the psychologist states they will use behavioral activation for a depressed patient. He should explain to the patient what is happening to him and what techniques are going to be used to overcome his problem. That is, you have to know what the psychologist is working on with you and why. If, before starting therapy, the psychologist tells you all this, it is a good sign.

We must bear in mind that choosing a suitable psychologist means that we’re going to hire a professional who will give us tools to learn how to manage our problems for ourselves. The therapeutic process can take time. However, if the patient follows the plan, little by little improvement should be evident.

This improvement should give us greater freedom and control. It should reduce the impact of the disorder in our daily life, with the ultimate goal of restoring full well-being. If this is not the case, it’s logical to consider switching psychologists. Remember, even within a group of good professionals, there are psychologists who are better with certain types of disorders than others.

Images courtesy of Juliette Leufke, Kelly Sikkema, and Sebastian Mantel.

It’s a new year, you’ve set new goals, and you’ve decided it’s time to go to therapy. Now what? Entering “find therapist” into your google search window is not going to help. There are a lot of therapists out there, but finding the right one for you can be as daunting as trying to find a good date online.

After more than 15 years of seeing a variety of therapists myself, I’ve had my share of bad experiences. I once met with a therapist who greeted me at the door dripping sweat and dressed like Run-D.M.C. (sans gold chain), straight from the gym. And while I don’t think a therapist’s outfit is a reflection of competence, I do appreciate a person who cools down first and dresses in a professional manner. And then there was the woman whose first question was “So, what’s wrong with you?” Not exactly the best way to create a sense of safety.

But don’t let me scare you off, I’ve also had amazing, life-altering, not-sure-what-I-would’ve-done-without-’em therapists. So even if it sounds like you have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find your “theraprince,” the result is definitely worth it. Below you will find my top five tips for how to find an awesome therapist.

(Still not sure therapy is for you? Check out my top five reasons why everyone should go to therapy.)

1) Ask People You Trust For Recommendations
Asking people you trust for recommendations is a great place to start. This could be a friend, family member, coworker or other health professional. If someone you trust can make a referral, this can act as a prescreening process. If you have a friend or family member who is a therapist, they would also be a good person to ask as well. Therapists tend to have good information about other reputable people.

2) Pick a Specialist if Necessary
Think about why you are seeking help and if necessary, find someone who specializes in treating your particular issue. If you are struggling with something very specific like OCD, ADHD, addiction or an eating disorder, it is very important that you see someone who specializes in the treatment of these disorders. There are evidence-based protocols which are used specifically to successfully treat issues like those listed above. If you are seeing someone who doesn’t have specific training in your issues, you might be wasting your time and money. Also, someone who claims to be an expert in everything is likely an expert in nothing. The field of mental health is just too broad for any of us to be experts in all issues, so beware of someone who claims such things.

3) Use the Web, But Don’t Be Limited By It
The web is a great resource for locating and learning more about local therapists. Psychology Today has a comprehensive listing of therapists and allows you to search based on several different factors. To be listed on Psychology Today, therapists must prove that they have an advanced degree and up-to-date professional license. You can read profiles or click through to individual therapist websites. If you are immediately turned off by someone’s tone, listen to your gut and keep searching. Just make sure you are looking in industry-appropriate locations. For example, Yelp is great for restaurants, but the same principle doesn’t apply to therapy. Finding a good therapist is a lot more nuanced than finding out which restaurant makes the best duck-fat fried Brussels sprouts.

4) Interview People Who Might Seem Like a Good Fit
Once you’ve narrowed down your list of potentials, give them a call. Get a feel for what they are like on the phone. Do you feel comfortable talking with them? Do they seem interested and empathetic? In addition, you might ask the following questions:
A) What is your style like?
This is important. Even if someone is a very skilled therapist, his or her style may not jive with yours. Try to get a feel for what it would be like to be in the room with the person. Are they active and engaged or will you be doing most of the majority of talking? Will they be giving you homework or will all the “work” happen in the sessions themselves?
B) Do you have experience working with my issue? If we were working together on this issue what can I expect?
You want to make sure that the therapist has familiarity and is comfortable working with the issue that brought you to therapy.
C) What is your theoretical orientation?
There are many different schools of thought in psychology and each therapist approaches problems differently based on their training and theoretical orientation. For example, a psychodynamic therapist might focus on childhood history, dreams and the unconscious roots of your behavior, while a cognitive behavioral therapist will help you identify problematic thoughts and help you shift those thoughts and their resulting behaviors. There are many different ways to approach the same issue, and while you may have no idea specifically what style you want or need, make sure that what the therapist is proposing is something that sounds aligned to your personality and needs.

(For a more detailed description of some of the most popular types of therapy click here.)

5) The Relationship Is More Important Than the Resume
Don’t be overly focused on finding someone with long list of accomplishments. Just because a therapist has written several books or has a busy public speaking schedule, it doesn’t mean that they are the right fit for you. Research has found that the most effective therapists build strong therapeutic relationships with their clients and have highly developed interpersonal skills including warmth, acceptance, empathy and the ability to accurately identify how a client is feeling. So give more weight to how you feel in the room with the therapist, rather than their list of accomplishments.

Now that you are armed with strategies for finding a great fit I wish you the best of luck in your search. I hope you find the therapeutic experience as rewarding and life altering as I have. Happy therapist hunting!

Table of Contents
  1. Credentials and Labels
  2. What to Consider in a Therapist?
  3. Where to Look?
  4. The First Session
  5. Final Thoughts

It helps to visit a therapist if you have mental or emotional issues affecting your life. It is also important that you find a good therapist that suits you. There may be many options to choose from. Here are the tips you can use to find a good therapist for better mental health.

How to find a good psychologist

Suppose you are struggling with mental health issues. You probably want to know how to find a good therapist. There are so many distinctions and a plethora of possible letter combinations after a mental health professional’s name. There are also specializations and tons of resources to help you find the right therapist for you. So how do you begin to look for a therapist?

First, it is essential to look at the different labels that therapists may have. Each clinician has a different level of education. Some providers have gone to graduate school for social work, while others have a doctorate in psychology. It is important to note that one degree does not trump another one.

You could see an LPC (Licensed Professional Counselor) who is an excellent therapist. Before you found that provider, maybe you worked with a Ph.D. who was not the best fit for you. Here are the different degrees that therapists can hold and what they mean.

Credentials and Labels

Credentials or labels do not indicate whether or not a therapist is good at their job. They are simply an explanation of what area the mental health professional has studied. It is a good idea to have a basic understanding of the differences. However, experience, referrals, and specializations may be more important depending on your situation.

Psychologists are experts in psychology who hold a Ph.D. or a PsyD. They study human behavior and the mind. These clinicians are trained in psychotherapy, counseling, and many times psychological testing. They commonly use cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) to help people identify patterns and behaviors. Then, they can help the person change their negative or unhealthy habits.

Psychiatrists are doctors who specialize in the treatment of mental or psychiatric illnesses. They are also licensed for prescribing medications and trained in talk therapy. They can also help you change your thought patterns or behavior.

Social workers are specialists that offer social services in order to help out a person’s functioning related to psychological or social issues. They can also offer counseling related to social or interpersonal problems and can help you function in your situation or environment. You may see their credentials listed as an MSW (Masters in Social Work) or LCSW (Licensed Clinical Social Worker), or LMSW (Licensed Master Social Worker).

Licensed professional counselors (LPC) have to hold at least a master’s degree in counseling and 3 thousand hours of experience after obtaining that degree. They are licensed or certified to diagnose and treat mental and emotional disorders. Typically, they are qualified to help you with a range of different issues, including anxiety, depression, emotion management, confidence or self-esteem, substance use or addiction, interpersonal relationships, and more.

What to Consider in a Therapist?

It is crucial that you are comfortable with your therapist since you will be speaking about personal issues with them. Therefore, it is a good idea to take some additional things into consideration.

If you feel more comfortable speaking to a man or woman, make sure you take that into account. You should also take their age and religious preferences into consideration if those things are important to you. Find someone that you are comfortable opening up to and speaking with because you will develop a relationship with this therapist.

Whether you are searching for an online therapist or visiting an office, you may be asked some questions about preferences or reasons for seeking a mental health professional. This can help to determine therapists that offer relevant services.

Also, it may help you remember that you can always change therapists if you decide you are not connecting with or getting along with the first one that you try. Never feel like you have to push through and continue sessions with a therapist unless you truly want to keep going.

I know of no more encouraging fact than the unquestionable ability of man to elevate his life by conscious endeavor. – Henry David Thoreau

Changing addictive behavior can be difficult. The decision to seek counseling or professional intervention is not an acknowledgement of weakness, but a sign of strength in recognizing ones own limitations. Albert Einstein once remarked that

The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them.

How to find a good psychologistCounseling offers the opportunity to explore in a safe, nonjudgmental atmosphere, the maps we have created in our life, where they have taken us, and how we might change them to get where we want to go. It is not a mysterious process, but a straight-forward open exchange of ideas that at its core, is about deepening our sense of humanity, connectedness, and understanding of the world around us.

Counseling can help address a number of life issues:

  • Reduction of addictive behavior
  • Inner peace and security
  • Securing a fulfilling career path
  • Emotional connectedness
  • Help someone with an addiction
  • Deepen intimacy in relationships
  • Sense of purpose and direction in life
  • Resolution of past traumatic experiences

How does one go about finding an ideal counselor?

Here are a few suggestions to find a good therapist:

1) What do you want to work on and what outcome do you seek?

Finding the right therapist or counselor largely depends on the issue(s) you (or a family member) would like to work on and the outcome(s) you seek. Like primary care physicians, there are counselors who are generalists, good at solving a lot of issues that people bring to therapy.

But also like medicine, there are those who specialize in helping people with particular problems like addiction, marriage or trauma resolution. If your goal is to explore your inner world with no specific issue that requires specialization, or you are not sure where to start in the therapy process, then a generalist works fine. However, if you know you have a specific issue it makes sense to seek out someone who specializes in that area.

2) What is your reaction to a specific therapist?

Therapists come in all shapes, colors and sizes – and the therapeutic approaches they employ are equally as diverse. What you should know is that for the most part none of this makes much difference. Good outcomes are a result of what happens in the therapeutic relationship which means that the number one criteria for selecting a therapist is your gut reaction to the person.

  • Do you connect with them?
  • Does what they say make sense?
  • Do you believe they have really listened and understood you?
  • Do you feel an emotional connection?
  • Does their understanding of how change occurs match with yours?

In the end, whether they are a psychologist, psychiatrist, licensed professional counselor, or licensed clinical social worker is not as important as whether you connect with them as a person.

3) How do they deal with emotions in therapy?

Real therapeutic experience comes about when people move developmentally beyond where they are stuck. To do this, a therapist must know how to assess developmentally where you are stuck. Then therapy must encourage advances within and through emotional stages of development, ideally helping you to develop the capacities for optimal mental functioning.

Ask whoever you see to explain their understanding of the role of emotion in therapy, and how what they do leads to real developmental growth and change.

4) Talk therapy only goes so far

It is not uncommon for people to choose a therapist or treatment that perpetuates the problem(s) they came for in the first place. Why? Because we select options based on our existing personality or way that we see the world, and discount or avoid situations that evoke fear or require stepping outside of our comfort zone.

This happens most often when people work with therapists who only rely on talk therapy to solve emotional problems. If you have emotional problems, talk therapy will only get you so far – emotional problems need to be solved by working with a therapist who knows how to work emotionally.