So, you’ve decided to find a therapist. Good for you! But, how do you find the right one?

You may have asked some friends who they see, and more than one person may tell you that his or her therapist is the best. However, when you go look at the therapist’s website, you may not feel that the therapist is right for you.

Each person is different in terms of what they want in therapy and who is the right person to help them with those goals. Here is a list of ways to know if you have found the perfect therapist for you.

7 Ways to Know if You’ve Found the Perfect Therapist

  1. There is no judgment.
    • Though all therapists say they are nonjudgmental, it is important that you really feel that there is no judgment in the room. On the other hand, if you are feeling judgmental of your therapist, that could also be a cause for concern. If you are ever feeling like there is judgment, you should bring it up with your therapist. If they deny or invalidate this feeling, it may be time to find someone new.
  2. They don’t tell you what to do.
    • Some people come to therapy looking for the therapist to tell them exactly what to do in a given situation. But, when you leave therapy, how will you ever be able to make your own decisions? Your therapist should help guide you towards good choices and decisions, but the process should be collaborative.
  3. Your therapist understands your goals and helps you work toward them.
    • In the first few therapy sessions, it is important for you and your therapist to outline your goals and make a plan as to how you will work towards your goals. While therapy may not solve all of your problems or help you reach all of your goals, you should feel that you are moving in the right direction. In other words, your treatment should be goal-oriented.
  4. You feel a connection with your therapist.
    • For someone who has never been in therapy, it may seem weird to spill all of your secrets to a stranger. As a therapist, I can tell you that we do not want you to feel like this is the case. A major part of the therapeutic process is building a relationship between the therapist and the patient, so that you both feel comfortable sharing thoughts with each other. If, after some time, you are not feeling this connection, it is okay. Some people just don’t work well together, and your therapist will be understanding if you ask for a referral.
  5. Your therapist validates you and empathizes with you.
    • If you share a feeling with your therapist and he or she reacts in a way that does not make you feel good, that is a red flag. Even if your therapist does not agree with your decisions or choices, he or she should be empathetic and validating at all times. You come to therapy to feel good, regardless of what is going on outside of the therapy room. Your therapist should be aware of that and always help you feel your best.
  6. You begin to notice changes.
    • Therapy is a process, and changes can take different amounts of time for different people. On top of that, therapy is not the answer to all of your problems. However, you should begin to notice that your therapist is helping you change the way you think or feel about some things, or that you are simply able to view some issues in a different light. If, after some time, you don’t feel this way, your therapist may not be working for you.
  7. You feel safe.
    • In line with everything above, you should always feel that the therapy room is a safe space. During your initial session, your therapist should let you know that everything you say in the room is confidential unless you discuss hurting yourself or someone else, or unless you give your therapist written consent to speak to someone else. You should always feel that you can tell your therapist anything without any backlash, and that your therapist always has your best interests at heart and will help you through whatever problem arises. If you feel hesitant to tell your therapist something because you are scared of his or her reaction, it may be time to find a new therapist.

Not every therapist is right for every patient, and luckily, there are enough therapists to go around!

If you are in the market for a therapist, try looking on Psychology Today for a list of psychologists in your area. Then, check their websites and call their offices to find out more information before you make a first appointment.

By doing your research and being flexible, you will find the therapist that is right for you!