I am frequently asked the question, "How do you choose the correct therapist in the Bay Area?". There are some important considerations to keep in mind and I'd like to share my thoughts.
1-Ask For Referrals
Like any professional (attorney, doctor, contractor) there are therapists who are good and therapists who are not. For this reason, it can be beneficial to get a referral from a friend or a trusted source because then you can make an informed decision about the characteristics of the individual you work with.
If there are specific issues you are going to see a therapist about, it can be helpful to ask about the therapist’s experience and/or comfort level in dealing with these issues. Also, if there is some quality you are specifically looking for in a therapist (e.g., if this individual is a parent) you are free to ask. Be aware that not all individuals will answer questions such as these, but however they respond is additional information to help you choose the right clinician.
Find out if there are any therapists who specialize in what you are needing. For instance, I specialize in treating Adolescents and Men. It is often helpful to see an individual who specializes in the issues you are looking to resolve because their experience may make them aware of things non-experts do not know, such as additional resources which are available in your community.
4-How Do You FEEL About This Person?
While this may be a difficult question to answer for some, it is important to know if you would feel comfortable opening up to this individual and/or if you believe they can successfully accompany you on this journey.
5-If Choosing For Someone Else, How Would THEY Feel?
Oftentimes, parents interview me when they are seeking a therapist for their son or daughter. In this situation, it's important to keep in mind not only how comfortable you feel, but how comfortable your child would feel as well.
6-Have An Interview Session
Just like choosing the right contractor for a job, it is totally appropriate to interview a therapist to ask questions and to see if it feels right. Keep in mind that if a therapist is unwilling to do this, perhaps they are not appropriate for you.
7-Most Importantly, Do Not Be Afraid To Choose Someone Else!
This decision is about YOUR well being. If it does not feel right, speak to your therapist about this. Sometimes, if this relationship continues to feel wrong, choosing someone else may be beneficial.