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How to Choose a Therapist

      Questions To Ask

  •     What level of help do you need?
  • Psychiatrist (MD) – Doctor who provides therapy & prescribes psychiatric medication
  • Psychologist  (PHD) – Doctorate Degree, provides therapy & psychological testing
  • Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner (PNPMH) – Masters Degree, provides therapy and prescribes psychiatric medication
  • Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) -  Masters Degree & Licensure, provides counseling, therapy & some types of testing
  • Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) – Masters Degree & Licensure, provides counseling & therapy
  • Marriage, Family & Child Counselor (MFCC) – Masters Degree, provides counseling & therapy.
  • What kinds of issues do you need help with?  Choose someone who has experience with the issues of concern to you.






Problem Solving




Childhood Abuse

Alcohol/Drug Problems


Social Phobia



Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity

Sexuality/Sexual Identity

  • Ask for referrals from your physician, other respected professionals or acquaintances whose opinion you trust.
  • Do you think you would be more comfortable with a male or female?
  • Do you want someone who is mostly supportive and empathetic or do you prefer someone who will be more directive or focus more on teaching skills?  Most counselors are trained to be empathetic and supportive but for a more direct focus, you may want someone who does Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or Solution Focused Therapy.  There are many styles and theoretical perspectives of counseling.  Ask which style your prospective therapist uses.
  • Does the person you are considering have a prospectus listing their credentials and therapeutic orientation?
  • Do they offer a free interview so that you can meet them and ask questions about their background and therapeutic orientation.
  • And don’t forget the money questions.  Do you have insurance coverage?  Some insurance companies only allow you to see practitioners who are on their panel of providers.  Some insurance companies require prior authorization before seeing someone.  If you don’t have insurance does the practitioner you are considering have a sliding fee scale.  Make sure you make financial arrangements with your chosen practitioner before you begin a course of treatment so there are no surprises.
  • And finally, do you feel comfortable with the person you are going to see?  If you have started treatment with someone and find that you are feeling uncomfortable for some reason, bring it up for discussion in session. Explore why this might be and what can be done.  Sometimes a therapist will remind you of someone (either positive or negative) from your past.  Or they can bring up issues of acceptance, rejection, control or authority. Talking about your feelings can return your therapy relationship to a comfortable level as well as resolving some of these old issues.  However, if this does not resolve the problem or if your practitioner is inappropriate physically or verbally, let  them know that you want to end treatment and look for someone else.
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