Find someone who has experience working with people like you
wavebreakmedia/Shutterstock It’s easier to open up to someone who can relate to you in regards to your age, religious beliefs, or cultural values, or understands how to handle issues from working with similar patients in the past. “For instance, I’ve had some people come into my practice and ask, ‘Have you worked with Jewish couples?’” says Cooper. “It’s important to them that I understand the issues around their culture.” Ask your prospective therapist about their work experiences and if they can’t answer your question directly, that may be a sign that they’re not a good fit. Respect and honesty are two other important qualities you look for in a doctor.
Set goals in the first session
VGstockstudio/Shutterstock An easy clue you’ve found the right therapist is if they have “treatment” goals that align with yours. Goal setting is an important first step to ensure that you both are on the same page about issues you want to focus on. “I like to set goals that we both agree on to be very clear about the work that we are going to be doing,” says Angela Londoño-McConnell, PhD, psychologist and president of AK Counseling & Consulting, Inc., in Watkinsville, Georgia. Discussing your personal goals with a therapist helps you learn about their therapeutic approaches to your problems and whether you two are a fit. A few daily mantras couldn’t hurt either for achieving your goals.
Make sure you’re comfortable
wavebreakmedia/Shutterstock Therapy is designed to be a confidential space for you to talk freely without being judged, so you should feel at ease sitting across from them on the couch. “[Therapy] needs to be a place where people are going to be able to openly talk about everything that’s on their mind,” says Anthony Tasso, PhD, ABPP, clinical psychologist in Whippany, New Jersey. “Therefore, it’s crucial that the therapist works to create a safe, secure environment to explore such feelings.” If you leave a therapy session feeling judged or ridiculed by your therapist, then it may be time to part ways and continue your search for a therapist that better fits your needs.