Live Better. Love Better. Work Better.

How to Choose the Best Therapist for You

Danielle Farmer, LPC

Starting therapy for the first time can be intimidating. There are steps you can take before your first session to lessen the feeling of fear and ensure you have a strong connection with your therapist. Having a compatible therapist makes the transition easier and can lead to a more successful outcome.

Understanding the Relationship:

Let’s start with understanding what makes for a successful therapy experience. A major component of what makes therapy successful is having a strong therapeutic alliance between the client and therapist. The therapeutic alliance can be defined as the working relationship between client and therapist. Now, let’s break down the definition a little bit further. Think about a time or moment in your life when you have felt comfortable enough to show vulnerability to a friend or loved one. Typically, for someone to be vulnerable there needs to be a foundation of trust, safety, and respect. Therapists use these components to build a therapeutic alliance. The stronger the alliance, the safer the client feels to explore deeper and more vulnerable topics. It also allows for the therapist to challenge and push the client towards their goals. 

woman in rust colored sweater looking contemplative sitting on stairsSelf-exploration and Research:

Now that we understand the basics of the relationship how can you find a therapist who is the best fit for you? Note I used the words “best fit”. Therapy is founded in science and research, so regardless of who the therapist is if they are using the research and implementing the interventions correctly a client should see some improvements. Although therapy can be helpful regardless of who the therapist is, we as humans connect better with certain individuals more than others. It’s at this point you will need to do a bit of self-exploration and research of your own. Ask yourself the following questions:

  1. What do I want to get out of therapy? Knowing specifically what you are wanting to gain or work towards in therapy is important because you may need a therapist who specializes in a certain area i.e., eating disorders, trauma, PTSD. 
  2. How important is it to you that your therapist is from the same background as you? (Religion, Race, Gender, Sexual Orientation, etc…) 
  3. Do I agree with the basic principles or framework the therapist is working from? (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Emotion Focused Therapy, Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing therapy, etc…)

Answering these questions for yourself ahead of time makes it easier to narrow down and filter your search for a potential therapist. Typically, therapists will have an online biography stating a bit about themselves, which therapeutic modalities they work from, and what populations they work with. Read these biographies and see which therapists align the most with your views and goals. After you find a few therapists, see if you can get a free 15-minute consultation before scheduling the first session, most therapists offer these. 

Don’t be discouraged if you don’t feel extremely connected to your therapists at first. The therapeutic alliance takes time to build. Also, trust your gut. If you aren’t seeing eye-to-eye with your therapist after a few sessions, they may not be the right fit for you. It is OK to switch to a different therapist. Therapy is a place for you to grow, heal, and explore facets of yourself. Make sure you are getting what you want out of therapy.


Ardito, R. B., & Rabellino, D. (2011). Therapeutic alliance and outcome of psychotherapy: 

historical excursus, measurements, and prospects for research. Frontiers in psychology2, 270.

Symmetry Counseling Recent News Image 4
Recent Posts

When to Go to Couples Therapy? When You Notice These 3 Sign

Apr 30, 2024

Zoe Mittman, LSW If you’re asking the question “when to go to couples therapy”, you are in the right place. I am going to spend some time talking about 3 signs couples therapy may be a good fit for you.…

Read More

Healing the Heart – Tips for How to Get Over a Breakup

Apr 23, 2024

Breakups can be extremely difficult for both the heart and the mind. Grieving the loss of a relationship is taxing both mentally and emotionally. Whether you initiated the breakup or are the individual being broken up with, the pain and…

Read More

Surviving the Holidays: 5 Tips for Managing Holiday Stress

Apr 16, 2024

Paula Gonzalez MA, LPC, ADHD-CCSP, CIMHP                                                                                         The Christmas holiday season can be filled with “tidings of comfort and joy!.” It can also be filled with lots of invitations to holiday parties that will have you “rockin’ around the Christmas tree…

Read More