How to Choose a Therapist: Things to Consider

Image courtesy of Salvatore Vuono

Image courtesy of Salvatore Vuono

Therapy can be a very powerful vehicle to make life changes.  It is an opportunity to take inventory of your life, to identify what is and what is not working for you, and then creating a plan to make adjustments to enable you to live the life you want.  It involves taking time to reflect on how things are going for you, then deciding what, if anything, to adjust, tweak, and change.            

However, the decision to enter therapy can be difficult and many find that choosing a therapist can be a daunting task.  With so many therapists out there, how does one choose?   

Here are some tips on choosing a therapist:

1. Choose a mental health professional who is registered with a regulatory body.  The College of Psychologists of BC is the regulatory body for psychologists in BC and establishes professional standards for licensure and competence for the practice of psychology.  

2. Become informed about the differences between the available mental health professionals.  Although many mental health professionals provide psychotherapy, there are key differences in educational background and training.  Here are some differences between psychologists, psychiatrists, and counsellors:  

  • Psychologists in BC have a doctoral degree in Psychology and specialized training in research methods, assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of mental health concerns.  For more information: http://www.collegeofpsychologists.bc.ca/ 
  • Psychiatrists have a medical degree and specialize in mental health.  The treatment involved is usually medication but some also provide psychotherapy.  For more information: https://www.cpsbc.ca/  
  • Clinical counsellors typically hold a master's degree in a field of study such as counseling psychology, clinical social work, psychiatric nursing, etc.  For more information: http://bc-counsellors.org/general/about-us  

3. Most importantly, choose someone you feel comfortable working with.  A strong working relationship with  your therapist is a major factor that increases the chances of successful therapy.  Ask yourself - do I like my therapist? Do I feel comfortable working with my therapist on my personal goals? Working relationships take time to develop but you generally can get a sense at least initially of your own impression of comfort and rapport with a therapist.