How to Find a Therapist
Whether an adult or child needs therapy, finding the right therapist takes research, patience, and intuition.
Another important point: Has your therapist been in therapy?
"I'm shocked at the therapists who have never undergone personal
psychotherapy," Weiss tells WebMD. "They have to have resolved their
own issues, or they will steer you away from things they are not comfortable
with. They may also bring their own issues into your therapy."
- Do I feel reasonably OK with this person? "Feeling totally comfortable
isn't the best criteria, because if you're too comfortable, you're just chit
chatting, and that doesn't help you," says Baker.
- Is the therapist really listening to me? Is he or she asking enough
questions? Especially in the first sessions, the therapist should be asking
many questions, to become acquainted with you and the issues you are dealing
- Has the therapist asked what outcome you want from therapy -- how you want
your life to be? How will you know when you get there, if neither the patient
nor the therapist has established a goal?
- Do you feel satisfied with the therapist's resources? For example, do you
have to find your own therapy group? Or is your therapist checking with
colleagues about a group appropriate for you?
- Does what the therapist say make sense? Does it seem like bad advice? Does
it help you or not?
Baker says patients don't always like his suggestions -- yet he
knows from intuition and experience that its good advice.
Example: Your husband uses profanity constantly when talking to
you; you want him to quit. Baker suggests that you mirror your husband's
behavior -- you use profanity the next time he does -- a technique he knows
will work. "People are always resistant to that, they don't want to 'sink
that low,' but then they're amazed at how well it works," Baker says.
"It's not that you should take up bad habits, but that he stop
"It's tough finding a good child psychotherapist," says
Weiss. "Not many people have much experience working with adolescents. You
can end up with a therapist trained to work with adults, but they work with
adolescents because they have an adolescent or because they like working with
A pediatrician can often make a referral, he tells WebMD.
"I warn people about school counselors making referrals; they are
overwhelmed and busy, don't follow up to see if good work is
Also, check with other parents. "I recommend that parents
identify two or three therapists that they find acceptable, then let your kid
pick from among them. That's so they have a voice in this," Weiss
Eugenio Rothe, MD, professor of psychiatry at the University of
Miami and director of the Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Clinic at Jackson
Memorial Hospital, offered his insights.