How Do You Find the Right Therapist?

When you take the courageous step of reaching out for help in a time of difficulty, it can be confusing knowing where to look for the right people. Reaching out is hard enough, and you want to make it worth your while. Finding the right therapist is therefore critical to your recovery and overall well-being. There are many things you can do ahead of time to ensure you are looking to the right person or people who can help give you the best chance at a full recovery.

The Different Types of Mental Health Professionals

Understanding the various mental health professionals in the field can give you a better idea of what direction to go in.


A psychologist is an individual that holds either a Ph.D. or PsyD in psychology. These professionals know all about the human brain, human behaviors, psychotherapy, psychological testing, and counseling. Today, most psychologists utilize cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT).This type of therapy allows the psychologist to better understand their client’s perceptions of the world and then help their client understand these perceptions and their roots. You cannot get a medication prescription from a psychologist, but they can refer you to other specialists.


Psychiatrists, often confused with psychologists, are doctors that are educated to diagnose and treat mental and psychiatric disorders. They can give you a prescription for medication, and they also possess medical training. They can help clients by using talk therapy (psychotherapy), which allows their clients to manage behaviors and negative thought patterns.

Licensed Professional Counselors

Counselors have undergone the proper education and certification to obtain a minimum of a master’s degree in counseling. After earning their master’s degree, counselors must complete 3,000 hours of counseling experience. Most work independently to diagnose and treat mental disorders.

Social Workers

Social workers strive to increase a person’s overall mental and social well-being inside of a managed care organization. They work one on one with individuals by providing counseling on interpersonal issues and concerns. Individuals often work through rebuilding and strengthening family and personal relationships with a social worker.

Average Cost

The different types of mental health professionals also come with their own fees and costs. Some are cheaper than others, but some may also be better suited to treat you and your needs. Consider this when researching various providers.The average costs per session are:

  • Therapist: $30-$200
  • Psychologist: $70-$150
  • Psychiatrist: $100-$200
  • Counselor: $20-$80

Other Factors

Some factors that people do not realize could impact the therapeutic process, revolve around the therapist’s gender, religion, age, and other factors. Deciding what type of person you will be most comfortable talking to is just as critical to your recovery as the types of treatment.If you would be more comfortable talking to an older woman, a younger man, or someone in between, keep this in mind when doing your inquiries. If you would feel more comfortable sharing personal things with someone of the same faith, don’t be afraid to ask or look specifically for someone that would fit this criterion.

Making Inquiries

When you have decided on the type of mental health professional you want to see and have found one in your local community, it is important to reach out and ask them certain questions. This part of the process will ensure the professional is the right fit for you.You should learn as much information as you can about their approach to treatment, their specialty, their education, the treatments they offer, and the cost of their services. Mental health professionals are used to people asking these questions at the beginning stages of treatment to ensure a good fit, so don’t worry about bothering them.Making sure you get along with your therapist is also critical. Keep in mind that you will be seeing this is the person for days, weeks, months, or even years at a time. It is important to make sure you both get along well, personality-wise, and in terms of the approach to treatment. You want to be working with someone that you feel comfortable talking to, otherwise the effectiveness of the treatment will be diminished.While doing these interviews is a good idea, remember to not get too focused on them. You can always choose a therapist you think is a good fit, but if they turn out not to be, cancel the sessions and find someone else. The process of trial and error is acceptable when it comes to your recovery.

Your First Appointment

Once you have found a therapist that suits your needs and you have decided on meeting with them, your first scheduled appointment will take place. During this session, your therapist will discuss how the therapy will work, discuss what you want to focus on, and have you sign the necessary paperwork.You will then be asked questions about your childhood, your family, medical history, and history of mental illness and treatment. You should also take this time to ask the therapist any questions you may have about treatment going forward. From here, your recovery can continue to progress.

Admitting you need help is only the first step on the road to recovery. Finding help is another story, and finding the right therapist can be intimidating. The important thing is to research and educate yourself on different types of therapy and what is available near you. Also, keep in mind what you are seeking for in therapy as well as what you want in your therapist, to ensure you are comfortable going through the therapeutic process. Once you have done your research and have a couple of candidates in mind, interview them to see if the two of you would be a good match. Decide on a therapist and your first appointment will be the next stepping stone on your path to recovery. For more information on therapy and the programs offered at Northstar Transitions, call (303) 558-6400.

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