15 factors to help you find a healthy therapist

Apr 22 / Peter Piñón
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Finding a therapist can be very stressful, especially because most of us don't start looking for one until we are going through one of the worst times in our lives.  
But, if you are struggling with mental, emotional, or relational issues, it's such an important step to take towards improving your mental health and overall wellness.  

Back in 2015, I started the process of searching for a therapist. I felt so vulnerable being a mental health professional and going to see a mental health professional, but it was one of the best decisions of my life. I really believe it has been a major part of what has saved my life, marriage, relationships with my children, and career.  

I recommend to finding a therapist that you trust, feel comfortable with, and can communicate openly with.  

Here are the top 15 things I considered when I was looking for a therapist: 

1. Qualifications
Make sure your therapist is licensed and registered with the relevant professional organizations. Find a therapist with specific training in the type of therapy you need. 

2. Experience
Look for a therapist with experience in your specific area of concern. For example, if you're dealing with addiction, search for a therapist who specializes in addiction work. 

3. Approach
 Different therapists may use different approaches to treatment, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, psychodynamic therapy, or mindfulness-based therapy. Consider which approach resonates with you. 

4. Trustworthiness
You should feel comfortable trusting your therapist, and they should be reliable and maintain confidentiality. It's okay to build trust over time, but if there's not trust eventually, you may to move on. 

5. Empathy
A good therapist should understand your feelings and emotions without judging you. Once they empathize, they should be able to validate your experiences. 

6. Active Listening
 Your therapist should listen attentively and be engaged in what you're saying, rather than just nodding along. It's so hard to share your soul and deepest content when your therapist is disengaged.  

7. Communication:
This is a big one. Look for a therapist who communicates clearly and is transparent in their approach to treatment. Communication skills are a major part of the delivery system of talk therapy. 

8. Flexibility
Your therapist should be flexible and able to adapt their approach to suit your needs. As therapists, we have our main approach, but we are trained in various approaches, so we can tweak based on what you're going through. 

9. Respect
Your therapist should treat you with respect and dignity, regardless of your background, race, or any other factor. I was looking for a therapist who would treat me like a real human, but also recognize that I was also trained as a therapist. Thankfully, I found that. 

10. Non-judgment
A good therapist should be non-judgmental and accepting of your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Your therapist doesn't have to approve or agree with you, but they do need to accept that your experience. 

11. Patience
Your therapist should be patient and understanding as you work through difficult issues. You don't want to feel rushed through your process, especially if you are dealing with longstanding issues. 

12. Availability
Look for a therapist who can accommodate your schedule and offer regular appointments. There might be wonderful therapists, but their availability is too limited for you to get the care you need. Keep looking. 

13. Feedback
Your therapist should provide you with feedback and be open to receiving feedback from you. Therapy should be a collaborative process, so you want to feel free and invited to give feedback. 

14. Goals
Your therapist should help you set achievable goals and work towards them. Many of us start therapy is vague goals. "I just wanna feel better." A good therapist will help you get more specific on what you want for your life. 

15. Follow-up
 Your therapist should follow up with you and make sure you're progressing towards your goals. You want to feel like you therapist is building each conversation on the previous one. 

Remember, everyone's therapy experience is unique, so trust your instincts and find a therapist who feels like the right fit for you. It might take a few "first sessions" to find the therapist you need, and that's okay. You're worth it. Your future self will thank you someday.  
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