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How to choose a Therapist

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Zara, Staff Writer

Monday, 22 February 2021

It is estimated that 1 in 4 adults are experiencing a mental health issue at any one time. Offering a confidential and non-judgmental ear, therapy is designed to support you with whatever challenges you are going through, in a way in which family and friends aren’t always able to. 

The therapist you choose should be someone you feel comfortable with and trust implicitly. They should have a deep understanding of your particular issue. But most of all, make you feel as if you are making progress with each session. 

If you’re unsure how to choose a therapist, it pays to take some time to consider your needs. Likewise, if you’ve previously tried therapy but found the professional wasn’t a great fit, changing up how you search for a therapist can offer a much better outcome since everyone offers a different approach. 

Find a licensed professional 

The first starting point is to find someone who is qualified. As an example, anyone can call themselves a ‘life coach’ but not a counsellor, psychotherapist, psychologist or psychiatrist. The professional should state what qualifications they hold, in addition to where they have worked as a therapist and how long for. 

Types of Therapists

  • Counsellor

  • Psychotherapist 

  • Psychiatrist

  • Psychologist

The next step is to choose the right kind of professional for you. It can get quite confusing, as each type of therapist is trained to listen and offer advice to help you. 

Here is a brief overview to explain what each type of professional does:


A counsellor can offer any kind of talking therapy, most commonly CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy). They will work with you to identify your goals and aspirations, helping you to overcome past or present issues that are causing you emotional distress. 


Pyschotherapy is intended to be a long term process to help you deal with events in the past that may have triggered your present symptoms. Psychotherapy is designed to be more thorough than counselling and is ideal for deep-rooted issues. 


A psychologist works to resolve emotional issues and can diagnose psychological symptoms on a deeper level than a counsellor. Psychologists can either be counselling psychologists or clinical psychologists. They usually have a doctorate which requires 8 years of training to achieve. 


Psychiatrists are trained doctors who have decided to specialise in dysfunction of the mind and mental health disorders. They largely deal with conditions such as ADHD, depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and panic disorders. As well as come up with a treatment plan, psychiatrists can also prescribe medication. 

Consider what you need help with

There are a wide variety of issues that any of us may need help with. Some such as anxiety, depression or stress are quite generalised with practically all therapists trained in helping with these areas. 

However, some therapists will only specialise in particular areas such as eating disorders, addiction, trauma or abuse. By matching the therapist to the issues they treat, it will make sure you are both on the same page from the start. It can also help you narrow down which professional to choose since not all therapists cover every issue. 

Make the most of your introductory session

The first session you have with a therapist is arguably the most difficult since it takes a lot of courage to reach out for help. The first session is usually about you discussing everything that has brought you to therapy, rather than going too in-depth with treatment. However, it will still give you a chance to see whether you are a good fit. 

Every therapist will have a different style of working. Some may offer a comforting ear and others will seek to challenge your thoughts to make you view things differently. Again, this comes down to the individual professional and what you are seeking therapy for since each issue requires a unique approach. 

To sum up

Choosing a therapist is a personal decision since no two people have had the exact same experiences in life. It’s normal to feel overwhelmed or apprehensive, though taking the time to think about your individual needs will help you to make a more informed choice. Also, most therapists will offer an introductory session or consultation before committing to sessions, which will help you see if they are the right person for the job. 

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