Tips To Find The Right Therapist For Your Mental Health

Going to therapy is an empowering step toward becoming a healthier version of yourself.

Through therapy, you can learn how to understand and process your feelings, develop coping skills, navigate relationships, and transform your mindset so that life better aligns with what you envision for yourself. In therapy, you can foster a deeper understanding of yourself, which can significantly improve your quality of life.

Finding the right therapist may seem like a daunting process. There are thousands of therapists with a wide range of specialties, credentials, levels of experience, schooling, and styles. Not to worry; selecting a therapist is manageable with the help of a few tips.

Read on for six tips on how to find the right therapist, which include determining your therapy goals, considering credentials and cultural competence, and more.

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I’ve Decided To Go To Therapy, But Now What?

Making the decision to move forward with therapy provides momentum. Now, it’s time to move on to the second phase of the process, which is choosing a therapist.

About one in five adults in the U.S. go to therapy, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Among them, 75% report experiencing some benefit, according to the American Psychiatric Association (AMA).

There are many factors to consider when choosing a therapist for your mental health, such as your therapy goals and budget; the type of therapist and their areas of specialty, cultural competence, and treatment style; and more.

1. Determine Your Therapy Goals

When you decide to go to therapy, it’s likely because you’re facing a conflict, a life transition, or even symptoms of a mental health disorder. By choosing the route of therapy, you’re making a conscious effort to change attitudes, thoughts, behaviors, and/or habits that may be unhelpful or destructive.

You may have considered therapy for a while, or it may be something that friends or family encourage you to explore. It’s also possible that you’re simply curious about whether you could benefit from therapy, but you aren’t quite sure where to start—and that’s OK, too. The right therapist can help you.

To schedule an appointment with the appropriate therapist, first you’ll need to ascertain what you’re seeking therapy for. By doing so, you’ll be able to filter your search based on specific areas of specialty.

People seek out therapy for help dealing with a myriad of issues, including:

  • addictive behaviors, e.g., TV, internet, and/or gaming addictions
  • anxiety
  • low confidence
  • eating disorders
  • grief
  • identity issues
  • intimacy issues
  • interpersonal relationship challenges
  • life transitions
  • phobias
  • sleep disturbances
  • stress
  • symptoms of depression, e.g., feeling lost or empty, isolation, sadness, etc.
  • the mental toll of a chronic health condition
  • trauma

People may also seek therapy for help dealing with emotional issues like anger, apathy, and resentment. Still others may consider therapy as a way to hear an objective perspective from someone who isn’t a friend or family member.

2. Examine Your Budget

Therapy can be costly. Depending on your financial resources and/or whether you have health insurance, you may consider different resources for affordable therapy.

If you have health insurance, you can keep costs down by looking for a therapist within your network. Some insurance plans may fully cover therapy or a select number of therapy sessions per year. Other plans may require a copay per session. You can also ask your therapist about sliding fee scales and setting up a payment plan.

If you do not have insurance or the financial means to afford therapy, you may reach out to local social services. You may be eligible to receive free or low-cost therapy at community-based clinics or from state-run services. If this is not an option, you may check out the support groups available at community centers, hospitals, schools, and/or churches.

3. Consider The Therapist’s Credentials

There are different kinds of therapists with varying levels of education and training. Some therapists provide general psychotherapy, or talk therapy, while others focus on clients with severe mental or behavioral challenges. As you move through the process of how to find the right therapist, you’ll want to consider which type will best suit your needs.

Psychologist (Psy. D)

A psychologist generally uses talk therapy to help clients process their feelings, cope with life situations, and better manage their mental health. Psychologists possess doctoral degrees, participate in a supervised internship for one year prior to graduating, and must pass an exam to become licensed in the state(s) they wish to practice.

Counseling psychologists focus on more common developmental and mental health issues and help clients manage life’s stressors. Clinical psychologists provide more comprehensive treatment for clients with diagnosed mental, emotional, and/or behavioral health disorders.

Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW)

Licensed clinical social workers (LCSWs) offer talk therapy to clients, but they can also provide additional support that considers the client in regard to the greater communities in which they live. In other words, a LCSW counsels clients but also connects them with needed community services. These professionals must have a master’s degree in social work and obtain professional licensure.

For example, a social worker may provide psychotherapy sessions for a single mother who recently completed substance abuse treatment. However, in addition to these sessions, a LCSW can also connect the client to community resources for child care, employment, and/or education, as well as recovery support groups, like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA). To make these assessments, the LCSW will consider the client’s living situation, the neighborhood in which they live, the resources available there, and more.

Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC)

Licensed mental health counselors (LMHCs) emphasize the use of holistic treatments to help clients with mental health issues. However, unlike a LCSW, LMHCs strictly focus on the mental health aspect of treatment and do not assist with outside services. LMHCs help clients understand how the greater community affects their thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. On the contrary, LCSWs help clients understand their relationship with the greater community.

LMHCs must possess a master’s degree in counseling or a closely related field, meet a minimum of clinical hours, and pass a state exam to earn certification. LMHCs may work in private practices, schools, or in marriage and family therapy.


A psychiatrist holds the highest level of education among all the other above-mentioned therapists. Psychiatrists can provide talk therapy sessions, but they can also assess clients, diagnose them with a mental health disorder, and prescribe medication according to the AMA’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5).

Psychiatrists must possess a master’s degree, finish four years of medical school, complete a four-year residency, and earn their board certification.

4. Contemplate The Therapy Type

There are various types of therapy that you may consider when contemplating how to find the right therapist. If you have been to a rehabilitation center for drug and alcohol addiction or a mental health treatment facility, then you likely had access to various therapy types.

The most common type of therapy is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT focuses on changing unhealthy beliefs and related behaviors. By addressing unhelpful thoughts and attitudes, the client learns how to better process emotions and develops healthy coping skills. If you are just starting therapy, you may consider starting out with CBT, as it’s among the most popular therapy types and is considered the “gold standard of psychiatry,” according to Frontiers in Psychiatry.

Other common therapy types include:

  • dialectical behavior therapy (DBT): a type of therapy that’s based on CBT but designed specifically for clients who feel emotions intensely
  • exposure therapy: a type of therapy for people with phobias or other anxiety- or stress-related disorders, alleviating anxiety, fear, and stress by gradually and safely exposing the client to triggering situations
  • eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) therapy: a type of therapy that guides clients to move their eyes a certain way to help with processing trauma
  • humanistic therapy: a type of therapy that focuses on improving how you feel about yourself, asserting that how you feel about yourself determines your behavior, to reach your full potential and become your authentic self
  • motivational interviewing (MI): a type of therapy that helps people who are indifferent find the motivation to change unhelpful behaviors
  • psychoanalytic therapy: a form of therapy that uses in-depth discussions to help the client recall and process repressed thoughts and feelings

Some forms of therapy are better suited for specific conditions. Different treatment settings are also important to consider. For example, individual therapy allows for one-on-one sessions with a therapist, while couple’s therapy and family therapy are possibilities for people looking to heal family dynamics and improve communication with their partner or loved ones. Group therapy is also an option for people experiencing similar challenges.

5. Factor In Cultural Competence

Depending on your needs and lifestyle, you may prefer a therapist who has cultural competence in regard to certain facets. For example, if you belong to the LGBTQIA+ community, you may prefer a therapist who specializes in treating clients from this community.

Other areas of cultural competencies you may want to consider include:

  • cultural background
  • disability
  • gender identity
  • race
  • religion
  • spirituality

6. Choose Online Vs. In-Person Therapy

Online therapy can be just as effective as in-person therapy. While online therapy has been available for years, its popularity skyrocketed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Online therapy requires you to have a computer or cell phone with functioning video and microphone features. After you’ve developed rapport with a therapist, it may be possible to conduct sessions over the phone. Online therapy allows the leniency to access therapy from anywhere in the world, whether you are traveling or on your lunch break at work.

Some people prefer in-person therapy because it offers a traditional format. The face-to-face, interpersonal aspect is more impactful to people who find themselves easily distracted or who simply don’t feel they can benefit most from meeting via technology.

How Do You Know If You’ve Found The Right Therapist?

As you navigate how to find the right therapist, keep in mind that it may take a few tries before you find a good match. You may participate in a few sessions with one therapist, and then decide you’d rather look for someone else. It’s important to remember that you aren’t committed to your therapist. You shouldn’t worry about hurting their feelings if you change therapists, and they shouldn’t make you feel that way. Therapy is about your benefit, so you will need to find someone who’s a good match for you.

That being said, therapy is not an overnight process. Therapy sessions may be scheduled once a week in the beginning, and it can take several sessions for your therapist to understand your goals, challenges, lifestyle, etc. Long-lasting change takes some time, but it’s worth it. Be patient with yourself and the process.

The right therapist for you will make you feel comfortable. You’ll trust that any topic can be discussed without judgment. You’ll appreciate the way your therapist challenges your existing thoughts and/or encourages you to consider situations in a different way. You’ll feel seen, heard, understood, and safe.

Therapies Available At Bedrock Recovery Center

Bedrock Recovery Center offers various therapies through our residential primary mental health program to support a number of mental health challenges and personal goals. Individual, group, and family therapy are a main focus of our treatment process, which is tailored to each client’s individual needs.

Some of the therapies available at Bedrock Recovery Center include:

Comprehensive care options also include crisis stabilization and withdrawal management, medication-assisted treatment, medication management, holistic therapies, peer support groups, case management, aftercare, and more.

Get Connected To Treatment At Bedrock Recovery Center

If you or your loved one is in need of treatment for addiction or a mental health disorder, contact Bedrock Recovery Center today to learn more about our residential treatment programs.

Written by Bedrock Recovery Center Editorial Team

Published on: July 3, 2024

© 2024 Bedrock Recovery Center | All Rights Reserved

* This page does not provide medical advice.

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