A new client can easily feel overwhelmed, when beginning the process to find a therapist. Whether you are searching on google or using a therapist locator site to search by city or zip code, all of a sudden there are 50 to 100 professionals to choose from.

First, I encourage people to think about location, location, location! Look for professionals who are local so you won’t have to sit in freeway traffic or travel a long distance for appointments. Your therapist should be close by in case you need to reschedule for a different time, or if a pressing issue or emergency arises and you need to come in on short notice. You’ll be glad that you chose someone nearby.

Second, think strategically. If you have always felt more comfortable speaking with women, choose a female therapist and vice versa. Most therapists are well-trained and capable to treat the issues you need help with, but, keep in mind that therapy will be far less effective if you aren’t comfortable sharing with your therapist from the beginning of treatment.

Third, you may want to shop around a little. It’s okay to say to a new therapist “I’m trying out different therapists to see who is a good fit.” If you find you are not feeling heard of understood by your therapist after the second session (or even the first), don’t hesitate to try out someone else in your area. Therapy is an investment of your most valuable asset – TIME. Don’t waste your time with a therapist who does not provide a comfortable, safe, relaxed setting AND who you don’t feel understands your goals for treatment.

Fourth, is the price right for you? Professionals in private practice do tend to charge a hundred dollars or more per session depending on their experience level. If you cannot afford to pay this fee or you want to use your insurance, your best bet will be to look into counseling agencies in your area. The only downside to agencies will be the level of experience your therapist will likely possess. Agencies typically employ interns rather than licensed professionals who have much more clinical experience to draw from. Some clients in my practice have come from counseling agencies and found that they either could not be seen as frequently as they would like, or, they discovered that they needed someone who had more clinical and life experience to offer them. Clients who choose to see a professional in private practice often find that they truly receive quality treatment tailored to their specific needs after paying more.

Fifth, challenge can be a good thing. A good therapist will be caring and compassionate while also able to challenge you in the areas that need change or improvement. If you find that your therapist rarely speaks or provides you with feedback, this may not be the best treatment for your money. Therapy works best when it is interactive and collaborative rather than passive and directionless. Discuss your goals for treatment and look for a therapist that will keep you on track while also giving issues the time they deserve. Remember, therapy is an investment of your time and money – choose someone who feels right for you!