Choosing a therapist who is the right fit for you can be a critical determinant of whether you will be able to resolve your problems or not.
Here are some basic tips to help you in the selection process.
Get a referral from someone you trust. Believe it or not, your physician may not be the best person to ask for a referral to a competent therapist. The reason for this is that many physicians refer to people who refer back to them, regardless of the competency of the therapist! So, if you really do want the name of a therapist from your physician, be sure to ask if he or she has had patients who reported excellent progress with that therapist.
Often, a good referral source is a family member or friend who has had excellent outcomes working with a particular therapist.
Check on the therapist’s credentials. Make sure you’re considering a therapist who is licensed in your state and has passed national licensing examinations. Therapists come in a multitude of specialties, from Masters level family and marriage therapists, to licensed clinical social workers, to licensed psychologists.
Unlicensed practitioners can call themselves psychotherapists, therapists and counselors, so be careful to only choose a licensed therapist. No one can use the title of “psychologist” without a license.
Therapists have different specialties and experience levels. Depending on your issues (such as relationship issues, eating disorders, sports performance, chronic illnesses), you can easily locate therapists who actually specialize in those issues.
Interview therapists via phone before making this very important decision. A good therapist will be willing to speak to you over the phone before you commit to an appointment. Don’t be hesitant to ask questions, such as the following:
- How long has he or she been in practice?
- What is his or her area of expertise?
- What methods does he or she use to treat patients?
- What is the typical length of treatment?
- Does he or she accept your type of insurance?
Don’t be afraid to ask the therapist about where she/he went to school. You can quickly determine which schools have higher academic standards and you are generally better selecting one who went to a well qualified school.
Another advantage of that initial phone call is to make sure that you feel comfortable and safe with this person. Be sure to inquire about the confidentiality issues that the therapist is bound by.
If you do your homework, in selecting a therapist, there is a much greater probability that your therapy experience will be wonderful!
I am also available for phone consultations with athletes around the U.S. and in-person visits with athletes in Southern California.
Jack N. Singer, Ph.D.
Certified and Licensed Sport and Clinical Psychologist
Diplomate, National Institute of Sports Professionals, Division of Psychologists
Diplomate, American Academy of Behavioral Medicine
Certified Hypnotherapist, American Academy of Clinical Hypnosis