what kind of therapist do I need

5 Steps for Finding a Good Therapist

When you think about going to therapy, are you stuck on, “What kind of therapist do I need?” Not only that, you might even question, “Should I go to therapy?” You are not alone in this struggle!

Making the decision to go to therapy can be incredibly difficult for many people. Often, it can take years of knowing you need therapy, but putting it off for numerous reasons you tell yourself.  Finding a good therapist is another obstacle.

As difficult as it can be to make the decision to go to therapy, knowing what to look for in a therapist is often just as hard. Many of my clients come to me after having been to several different therapists before who were not good fits for them.

It is common for many people to go to one or maybe two therapists who are not good fits for them and begin thinking that no therapist can help them. Then, they may give up on finding a good therapist.

What kind of therapist do I need?

As with any profession, there are therapists who should’ve found another career. Please just keep that in mind.

Apart from that, to really heal you may have to spend time finding a good therapist. Before you get stuck on the question, “What makes a good therapist?”, take a deep breath and keep reading.

One of the most important things I tell all of my clients at the beginning of their first session with me is that I may not be the right fit for them. I don’t take offense if that becomes true as I know I am not the right therapist for everybody. It is normal to struggle to find the right therapist.

My style of therapy is very laid-back, as is my office. Most of the time, you will find me barefoot with leggings and a comfy shirt. There are lots of people who would prefer a more “professional” look and environment. Again, not all therapists will be the right therapist for you.

So, now you may be wondering what to look for in a therapist. How will you know if a therapist is the right fit for you? How to you determine what you need in a therapist?

Are there signs or feelings you’ll have if a therapist is not the right fit for you? Follow these steps and you will have the answer to, “What kind of therapist do I need?”

5 Steps To Determine What Kind of Therapist Do I Need:

  1. Ask the therapist if he or she has ever been to therapy.
  2. Be aware of your personality and your emotional needs.
  3. Take note of the style, energy and atmosphere of the office.
  4. Pay attention to their credentials.
  5. Trust your intuition as to whether you do or do not feel a good connection.

What To Know About Steps For Finding A Good Therapist

Now, to explain my reasons behind each of these steps! As the first step states, ask the therapist if she has ever been to therapy. In my opinion, this is incredibly important! We all have “issues” that we need to work on.

As therapists, we should have gone to therapy at some point. This is one of the most important things in determining what makes a good therapist in my opinion.

From my experience with other therapists who are colleagues, I am always shocked at how many therapists have never actually been to therapy. I just wish all therapists could answer yes to, “Should I go to therapy?”

If a therapist has never worked on his or her “stuff”, it can greatly impact their ability to be a good therapist. This is one of the many reasons finding a good therapist can be so hard.

I always tell my clients that, if I had never been to therapy to work on my “stuff”, they wouldn’t want me sitting in front of them. Also, a good therapist will go to therapy as needed throughout his or her life.

If a therapist refuses to tell you if she or he has been to therapy or tells you he or she has never been to therapy, I would get up and leave. Now, I’m aware that this may anger many therapists. Just keep in mind that this is my opinion from my experience.

What Personality Do You Need When Finding A Good Therapist?

The second step is also very important if you are new to therapy and working on finding a good therapist. If you know that you need somebody who is very patient and very warm, make sure your therapist portrays those qualities.

For those of you who need a therapist who is kind, but, at the same time, is willing to challenge you, keep that in mind while finding a good therapist.

It’s perfectly ok to ask a therapist what it might look like if she or he feels a client may need to be “pushed” or challenged. Just make sure you are able to identify, “What type of therapist I need?” It might even be helpful to write all of those answers down before you start the process.

Pay Attention To The “Vibe” When Finding A Good Therapist

As number three states, make sure the feeling you get in the office matches your needs. For example, at my office we have calming music playing with warm colors and very casual furniture. As I stated earlier, you will typically find me in leggings, a comfortable shirt and barefoot.

Again, I am NOT the therapist for everybody. Many people may need a more “professional feel” to their therapist’s office. That is perfectly okay, just make sure the atmosphere works for what you need when you are finding a good therapist for you.

Numerous Credentials Don’t Necessarily Equate To Being A Good Therapist

Having numerous credentials does not always equate to being a good therapist. That is why I say you should pay attention to credentials.

Not doing so could possibly deter your agenda of finding a good therapist for you. Most would think that I mean that the more credentials the better the therapist.

That is simply not true. Again, I’m sure this will not go over well with a lot of therapists. So, again this is merely my experience. Continue to remember that we are all different and a good therapist for you may not be a good therapist for plenty of others.

From my experience, I have found that therapists who spend tons of money, energy and time obtaining certification after certification typically have a lot of Not Good Enough Stuff of their own.

Usually, they are trying to prove to others that they are good enough. They may do that by attaining every credential they possibly can. To learn more about what I mean by Not Good Enough Stuff, click here.

A lot of the therapists I know that fit that description have never even asked themselves, “Should I go to therapy?” Trainings and certifications DO NOT equate to having gone to therapy. We as therapists all need to do our own personal healing work!

You Must Feel A Connection to the Therapist

Now, to explain the fifth step in finding a good therapist. Have you ever walked into any kind of office and you immediately felt out of place or uncomfortable? If you get that same feeling in your interactions with a therapist, then that is probably not the right office or therapist for you.

So, just be aware of the energy of the office from the moment you step foot into the office while you are working towards finding a good therapist. It’s incredibly important that you feel comfortable. If you don’t, are you really going to be able to show vulnerability to them?

I also want to say that sometimes a therapist might work for a company with styles that conflict with their own. So, if the “vibe” of the therapist works and the waiting room and office doesn’t, you should still give that therapist a chance. It’s still possible that you are on the right track for finding a good therapist.

Don’t Give Up on Finding a Good Therapist

As you navigate these steps of finding a good therapist, keep in mind that it is perfectly ok to tell a therapist that he or she is not the right fit. If the therapist has done his or her own healing work, the therapist will not take offense. Hence, reason number five billion and six as to why all therapists should go to therapy.

Regardless, you should always see the therapist who is the best fit for you. Please know that you don’t “owe it” to any therapist to keep giving him or her a chance to click with you. If it’s not there at the beginning, it’s probably not going to arrive later. Just don’t give up on finding a good therapist!

Frustration can definitely arise as you begin the work of finding a good therapist! It may take trying a few before you find the right one. I tell people that finding the right therapist can be like finding a good pair of jeans. You may have to try on a few before you find the right fit.

To begin finding a good therapist, click here. If you have any interesting stories while finding a good therapist, please comment below to share those with us!


This site is only intended for people who are truly willing to look at themselves with an open mind and have the ability to truly be vulnerable with themselves and others. Please understand that this site is in NO WAY THERAPEUTIC ADVICE. However, this site can be very beneficial in learning the causes of your Not Good Enough Stuff. This site is not intended to provide or replace medical or psychiatric treatment. Mary Beth HIGHLY RECOMMENDS finding a licensed therapist to help you process the information from this site and all that you learn about yourself. Visit Psychology Today to find a licensed therapist in your area.

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Great advice! I love your honesty about the fact that you are not for everyone and it’s OK to shop around so-to-speak.

Last edited 3 years ago by mahara