How to Choose a Good Therapist
Updated: Mar 17
You are finally ready to go to therapy, and now your next challenge is to figure out who you want to work with. Choosing a good therapist for you is quite important, as the connection and relationship between the therapist and client (you) is of utmost importance in helping you reach your therapy goals and achieving change. Perhaps you are not sure how to even go about searching for a therapist, much less a good therapist. Should you Google it? Get a referral from a trusted doctor or medical provider? Talk to your insurance company? Roll the dice and see if it lands on a good therapist near you?
Just searching randomly for a therapist may not result in a “good” or “great” therapist or one that matches what your needs are. Therapists have become highly specialized, and most therapists, especially in population-dense areas such as the Denver metro-area, tend to have a defined niche of who they work with. This allows them to become experienced and specialized within that niche, and thus produce better results than a generalist who does everything.
First, figure out what you are wanting therapy for, what your treatment issue is. Try to narrow it down to a few keywords, such as “anxiety treatment” or “stress management” or “couples counseling”. Then narrow it down even further by location, either close to home or close to work. Then you can start your search for a therapist that fits your needs.
You’ll want to look for a therapist that lists what you’re wanting treatment for as a specialty on their website or online directory. If you’re looking for treatment for a past trauma, you don’t want to go to a therapist who specializes in eating disorders.
You will also want to decide how much you’re willing to spend, or a price range, for your therapy. The average per-session therapy charge in the Denver metro-area is between $120-$180, and even higher in some areas. If that seems unaffordable to you, you can go through your insurance to find a therapist who is in-network with your insurance, but you may not get an experienced, specialized therapist. Remember the end results you hope to attain from therapy, and then determine if it’s worth it to spend your hard-earned money for a top therapist.
For more affordable therapy options, you can also search for or choose a therapist who is not yet licensed. These therapists often offer reduced rates because they lack experience and are still working towards obtaining licensure. If your issue is more general, like depression, this might be a good option for you. But if your treatment issue is more specific, such as eating disorders, you’ll likely want a more experienced and thus licensed therapist.
There are many different ways to search for a therapist, and no right or wrong way. Here are a few options:
There are many online directories that are free for you to browse, that offer profiles, photos, and descriptions of multiple therapists. You can usually narrow down your search by location, type of issue you’re looking to treat (e.g., grief and loss, ADHD, etc.), and cost of sessions. Some of the more popular directories are:
Online directories can be overwhelming at times, with so many therapists to choose from, so if you want to narrow your choices down further, try these additional ways of searching.
Getting a personal therapist recommendation from a family, friend or colleague will likely carry more weight with you than selecting a therapist from a directory. Especially if you live in a highly populated area where there may be hundreds of therapists to choose from, a personal recommendation will help you narrow your choices significantly. And it’s always nice to go see someone who a friend, family member or colleague can vouch for!
Ask Your Doctor
Your primary care physician (PCP), OB/GYN, or other specialist likely has a list of preferred therapists in the community that they routinely refer their patients to. Medical providers like to refer to therapists who provide good services, have good communication, and provide good results. You may even check with a dentist, eye doctor, or other specialist to see if they have any therapist recommendations also.
Contact Your Insurance
If you are looking to use your insurance benefits for therapy, contact your insurance company directly for a list of therapists that are in-network. Insurance companies can often provide you with a list of providers that take your insurance, however you’ll likely need to wade through the list on your own to see which therapist works with your age range (e.g., adults vs. children, etc.), your issue needing treated, and is in your area. Expect to contact several in-network therapists before you find one with openings and that accommodate your schedule.
One of the most popular ways to search for a therapist is to use a Google search. The more details you can provide in your search, the more likely it is to yield what you are looking for. For example, instead of searching for “therapist near me” you may want to specify further such as “stress management treatment in Englewood, CO” or “therapy for pregnancy loss in Denver”. Several of the first page results may be online directories such as detailed above, but you’ll also get specific websites that meet your search criteria that are worth checking out.
Doctor Search Websites
There are specific websites out there that let you search for medical and health specialists such as therapists. The most popular one is Zocdoc. This lets you search their website for therapists based on location, issue needing treatment, and cost/insurance. Depending on your area, more or less therapists may be registered on sites such as this.
Once you’ve narrowed down your search, contact each therapist on your list by either phone, email or website contact form and ask if they are taking new clients. And if they aren’t, ask if there is someone else they can refer you to. You may not get your first choice of therapist, but remember there are many excellent therapists out there who specialize in what you’re wanting treatment for.
Hopefully by now I’ve taken the confusion out of how to search for a good therapist. While the process of searching for a good therapist sounds intense, narrowing it down to what you’re looking for in the beginning is a lot easier than seeing a therapist a few times then deciding it’s not a good fit between you and the therapist.
If you are interesting in learning more about the therapists at Catalyss Counseling, or seeing if one of their therapists might be a good fit for you, contact us for a free 20-minute phone consultation.
Shannon Heers is a psychotherapist and owner of Catalyss Counseling in Englewood, CO. Shannon helps adults in professional careers manage anxiety, depression, work-life balance, grief and loss, and addictions. Follow Catalyss Counseling on Facebook or LinkedIn.