With all the options out there, how do you pick a therapist?  It certainly is not an exact science.  For the most part, you probably will not know what to expect until the first session.  Still, you may be able to get an idea of what the therapists are like by reviewing their web pages.

Psychotherapy is different from physical therapies.  For physical concerns, we tend to look for the best treatment for our ailments.  For example, if I break a toe, then I want the best foot doctor in town to take care of me.  This makes sense for physical conditions, but research shows that it is not the best method for seeking psychotherapy

For mental health, clients get the best results when they seek a therapist who uses an approach that makes sense to them.  In other words, find a therapist whose approach resonates with you.  Then you will be the most motivated, and mostly likely to follow through with getting unstuck and progressing on your path.

Most importantly, know that you are never bound to continue seeing a therapist.  If after a few sessions you find that you are not receiving benefit from treatment, it is probably best to seek help elsewhere.  Research shows that clients are typically getting symptom relief at 4-6 sessions.  Of course, every situation is unique and results vary.

(For more information on the research to which this entry refers, see Wampold’s The Great Psychotherapy Debate, specifically pages 41-42.)