Choosing the Right Psychologist

January 22, 2014 at 9:00 AM


If you have decided to seek out a psychologist for therapy, you might wonder how to go about finding one who is a good fit for you.  Here are some things you might consider when looking for a psychologist: 

--What is the psychologist’s specialty?  Why are you seeking therapy and does this person espouse an expertise related to your area(s) of concern?

--What is the psychologist’s preferred therapeutic approach?  That is, how will they approach the work they do with you?  Do they employ CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy), psychodynamic, psychoanalytic, or another approach?  There are quite a few therapeutic modalities, and many psychologists will integrate several into the work they do with you.

--What is the psychologist’s educational background?  Training programs can vary widely, and a psychologist with a degree from a well-reputed institution and solid post-graduate training may be better suited to help than one who might require more experience to attain the same level of competence. 

Then, of course, there are practical considerations, such as whether the psychologist is “in network” with your insurance provider and the amount of their fees.  To some degree, the adage “you get what you pay for” might apply here.  The lowest cost psychologist might not always be the one who is best suited to help you. 

Most psychologists will initially want to meet with you on a weekly basis to establish rapport and to create a safe space.  Some will agree to see you more or less frequently.  This is important to discuss during the first session or prior to scheduling.  Psychoanalysts will often want to see you two or more times per week.  Conversely, psychologists employed at insurance company owned facilities may only be allowed to schedule you for sessions once a month.

During the first session, or after meeting with a psychologist for a few sessions, you might want to take some time to consider how you’re feeling about the experience.  For instance, ask yourself:

-- Do you feel comfortable and safe with the psychologist?

-- What do you like or dislike about how the sessions are going?

-- Are you adequately discussing your concerns/reasons for seeking therapy?

-- Do you feel like this psychologist can help you?

-- Do you want to meet with this psychologist again?

Feeling nervous or uneasy is common early in a therapeutic relationship.  Many individuals feel conflicted about seeking therapy, and it can be unsettling to address your concerns head on.  It’s important to agree to attend a few sessions prior to making a decision about the utility of therapy for you.  Although people seek therapy to help them feel better, therapy can, at times, be difficult, and you may feel worse before you feel better.  You might experience feelings of anger, guilt, shame, fear, or sadness as you work with your psychologist.  These feelings can make therapy confusing or frustrating.  It is often helpful to discuss your feelings about therapy with your psychologist.  It’s ok to ask questions and to expect clear and understandable responses.  A candid discussion about what is happening in therapy can help alleviate much of the confusion or frustration with which you might be struggling and allow you to move forward with the valuable work you’re there to do.


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