If you decide to see a therapist, finding one who’s right for you presents one of the biggest early hurdles.

“The field of psychology, psychiatry and psychotherapy has advanced over the years, and one of the ways it has advanced is by learning that certain therapies may work best for certain problems,” said Eric Storch, vice chair of psychology in the Menninger Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston.

Storch offers some solid tips for finding the best therapist for your needs:

Make a Connection

You should feel a sense of connection and comfort when disclosing personal information to a therapist. Being able to talk openly and comfortably is a good sign you’ve found the right therapist.

What’s the Plan?

Expect a therapist to ask questions about your situation at the first meeting, which will help them figure out the problem and create a treatment plan best suited to deal with it. Their plan should align with therapies proven to work for your particular issue.

“In psychotherapy, you want to be looking for people who have a particular expertise in a particular type of problem,” Storch said.

For example, people with obsessive-compulsive disorder or anxiety might best be served by cognitive-behavioral therapy. Interpersonal problems would require a different type of therapy.

Ask Advocates

Patient advocacy groups can provide you with questions you can ask during a first meeting with a therapist.

Some common initial questions might be, “What is your treatment approach?” “What evidence supports using that approach for my problem?” “How long will it take?” and “What are some things we do in treatment?”

“You can match up the answers with a trusted, vetted source to understand if this is the right treatment approach,” Storch said in a Baylor news release.

Good therapists will encourage open discussion of their treatment approach, Storch said. Don’t be discouraged if it takes a few tries until you find the right one.

“If you see someone and it just isn’t the right connection or they don’t specialize in the established treatment for your problem, it’s ok to move on. It’s all about finding the right fit that allows you to best actualize yourself,” Storch said.

More information

Harvard Medical School has more about choosing the right therapist.

SOURCE: Baylor College of Medicine, news release, Jan. 22, 2024

What This Means for You

Don’t hesitate to ask a potential therapist questions about their treatment approach to your problem, to make sure they’re the best fit for you.