[image by Matti Mattila]

Now that we have talked about how to go about finding a good therapist in the previous post, let’s talk about some things you should be looking for. Now, this is going to differ based on a lot of factors, but I think most often, it will differ based on your history of how you have chosen therapists before, or how the community you are most active in goes about doing the process. So the criteria varies depending on who you are talking to.

But here are some things that I think are important.

  1. Education: Have they gone to school (undergraduate/graduate) to receive training for this profession? Or have they been through some sort of recognizable and approved training program?
  2. Credentials: Besides education, what other credentials do they carry that enhance their work in this profession?
  3. License: Are they licensed by the state they practice in?  This could vary, as some great therapists don’t carry a state license, but are sometimes certified by an organization (the AAPC is an example), and then they are usually monitored by some governing body such as a church or non-profit organization.  When looking online, look for a therapist’s license number which is supposed to be displayed in most cases. You will see things like LMFT, LMFT-A, LSW, LPC, etc., usually with some numbers following it.
  4. Accountability: This goes a little back to the previous item.  If they are not licensed through the state, or are not recommended or vouched for by a governing body, then be careful.  I have heard horror stories of people who have gone to therapy with someone who was not practicing under proper guidelines.
  5. Experience: Does this person have experience in doing therapy, or experience in the specific areas that you are wanting to go see them about?  Experience level obviously varies from therapist to therapist, and there are good ones with all levels of experience.  But do they meet your expectations?
  6. Ethics: Does the therapist appear to operate ethically in the manner that is appropriate for their profession?
  7. Rapport: Do you connect?  This is actually one of the key factors in most people deciding on a therapist, and a key to success in therapy, so I will devote a post to this later.
  8. Therapy: Do they go to therapy themselves?  This is a little more tricky, and you may not want to ask your therapist this, but many people have.  I have found it to be a good rule of thumb to see a therapist who goes to therapy themselves (they may not currently be in therapy, but they attend on occasion to continue their own work which makes them a better therapist).  Therapists can still be good and not go to therapy themselves, but this is something that I have found helpful to myself and others.

So what do you think of this list?

Am I missing anything that you would want on there?