How to Choose a Therapist

A good therapist will work with you, as a partner. He/she will not tell you what
to do. He/she will help you to find a solution to your problems. Good therapy is
an art form. It depends on the therapist’s ability to focus on your problem in a
way that is useful to you. An effective therapist goes beyond professional
training. He/she will understand you. He/she will help you to believe there is
hope for things to work out in your life.


Four Things to look for in your therapist: 
1. Do you feel comfortable talking to the therapist? After all, this is someone
with whom you will have to trust and share your most private thoughts.
2. Has he/she dealt with this kind of situation before?
3. Will he/she tell you what to do (“Aunt Sadie Therapy”) or just sit and listen
with limited comment? During each session the therapist should help you to
figure out the solutions for yourself.
A therapist is different from other professionals. An attorney, a
physician, or an accountant tells you what to do. They will tell you
how to present your case, what medication to take, or how much
money you owe the IRS.
4. The therapist should also give you practical advice and things to think about
that you can take home and work on between sessions.
Before you choose a therapist you should interview them. Talk to them over the
phone before you set up an appointment. Discuss the issues I raised earlier. By
using the above suggestions you should get a pretty good idea about this
potential therapist.


If you would like more information about selecting a therapist, see the article
“Selecting a Good Marital Therapist” in the Marriage Counseling section.


The Good News:
You may only require a few sessions. Three months is probably the average
time for noticeable psychological improvement to occur for many problems.
(See Consumer Reports (1995), “Mental Health: Does Therapy Help?”, pp.
734-739). Individual experiences will vary. Some issues or deep seeded
problems do take awhile to work out. Why not find out what is involved? I
remember years ago when I was in college and money was tight. I didn’t have
any heat in the passenger side of my car. I was afraid to go to have it checked
out because I was worried about how much it would cost. Finally, after riding
around wearing a hat and gloves, I impulsively drove to an auto mechanic to
check out what the problem was. I said to myself “I will freeze no longer.”
“What ever it takes I will do”. I found out that I was low on antifreeze. Things
aren’t always as bad as we think. Sometimes a quick look by a “mechanic” can
offer easier solutions that we thought possible. Don’t stay out in the cold when
you don’t have to.
Dr. Marty About Dr. Marty

I am trained in eight different types of therapy. I believe that the therapist should be flexible and have the treatment fit the client. As a result, I have studied a wide variety of approaches. I am a licensed Marriage and Family Counselor and a Licensed Clinical Social Worker.

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