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A 10-Question, Stress-Reducing Guide To Finding A Therapist

Few things are harder than finding the right therapist—until now. 

A 10-Question, Stress-Reducing Guide To Finding A Therapist

If you’ve been scrolling through your health insurance portal with complete overwhelm, or Yelp-searching “therapy” and immediately needing a stress-nap, join the club. Searching for a mental health care provider who gets you (and doesn’t fleece your pockets) isn’t easy. And until they launch a matchmaking show that pairs people with their perfect therapist (patent pending?), this can be a daunting search for just one human.  All that stops now, because you have us. 

Behold: our starter guide for finding your perfect therapist, with ten questions you’ll need to ask yourself during your search. It’s a flexy guide—skip over some if they’re too daunting, come back later, bring a friend and answer them together. Whatever feels best, we’re here to help. 

What even is therapy? 

First things first: when we’re talking about therapy, we mean psychotherapy, a.k.a talk therapy: a “variety of treatments that aim to help a person identify and change troubling thoughts, emotions, and behaviors.” In short, talk therapy is a process—typically verbal—in which you and a licensed health professional, either one-on-one or in a group, work through and address mental health challenges you may be having. Together, you and your therapist could delve into specific disorders and diagnoses, traumas, coping strategies, and more. 

Why am I seeking therapy? 

Don’t worry about being right here. It’s not your job to know exactly why you need therapy, and in fact, a good therapist could help you work through all the reasons therapy’s a good fit for you. 

The only thing you need to answer is why you feel like you need it. Do you have specific goals for your mental health, or for your life in general? Have you been noticing that you’re more anxious than usual? Have you been experiencing depressive symptoms? Are you struggling with an ADHD diagnosis, and trying to figure out some strategies? Is there a trauma that you want to work through? Or do you have no idea? 

Every answer is valid, and it’s good to have this in your back pocket as you continue your search—we’ll explain in a sec. 

What are the ideal therapy vibes? 

Thinking big picture, ask yourself: what does a conversation look like with your ideal therapist? Are they deeply cerebral with full deep dives into your behavior? Do they lead with questions first? Are you able to chat with them casually and summarize your day? How often are they participating verbally, and in what ways? Do they utilize somatic or bodily awareness techniques? 

Again, no real wrong answers here, especially if your answer is “I don’t know!” Sometimes, it’s easier to start with the things you definitely don’t want in a therapy session, and to keep those in mind as you search. 

What techniques might I be interested in? 

Next, let’s take a look at some talk therapy methods out there—there are quite a few. Feel free to skip this if it’s overwhelming, because it could very well be. Here’s a starter list of therapeutic techniques we’ve researched, with links to learn more: 

Note that this list is far from comprehensive, and that some therapists may use many techniques with you, either alone or in combination with each other, to meet your goals. 

What kind of person will I respond most to?  

Would you feel more comfortable with a queer therapist? A woman? A person of color? A person of a specific faith? All four? Therapists exist in all forms. Know that you can search for someone that shares a specific set of experiences and cultures with you, if you need—and also know that you’re allowed to not want that.

How do I want to show up? 

There’s a big, wide therapy world out there—and luckily, technology has made it all the more accessible. So now, you get to ask yourself the way that feels best for you to show up for each session!


Is it more comfortable for you to be at home or in a remote setting? Do you work from home or travel frequently, and need to be able to jump onto a meeting quickly? Are you unable to drive or travel physically to see your therapist? If so, then you’ll want to find a therapist that offers teletherapy, or virtual meetings. 


Do you prefer sharing physical space with your therapist? Are you just trying to get out of the house more for weekly appointments? Do you envision yourself walking from a workout to therapy for a fitness double-header? If so, then you might want to see someone who does in-person sessions. 

You can change your answer at any point! In fact, if both sound good, it might be best for you to get a therapist that offers in-person and telehealth sessions, so you can go with what feels right at each appointment. 

How can I pay for therapy? 

You’ve got options! If you have insurance through your employer, school, a family plan, or more, make sure you get the full rundown on your coverage! Assess what your co-pay details are, if you’ll need to submit for reimbursement, and more. In some cases, you may need to get a referral from a primary care physician first. You’ll likely be able to find all these details in your insurance portal. 

If you’ll need to pay out of pocket, get an understanding of your budget. Forbes Health found that on average, therapists charge between $100 and $200 per session. However, many therapists offer sliding scales for payment or rates for lower-income folks. 

If you’re in need of something low-to-no cost, check out local mental health clinics or counseling centers that may offer therapy services. 

Where do I look for a therapist? 

Your insurance portal

For many, this is the easiest place to start. It’s the best chance you have at seeing only practitioners that your insurance covers, and depending on the portal, you can sort by: 

  • Location 
  • Race and ethnicity
  • Age 
  • Gender
  • Specialty
  • Telehealth vs. In-person sessions

You may also get in-depth information on co-pay, reviews and ratings, and pricing. 

Online databases

Online databases or referral networks like Psychology Today and Good Therapy, are great places to find licensed therapists. Even more filters are possible here, including faith, specialty, language, insurance, and price. 


Want a short list of therapists that could be a good fit for you? See if your primary care physician has a few suggestions. 

Whoaaaa, lots of results! How do I sort through these? 

If you’re a girlie with anxiety (like me!), it’s normal to be overwhelmed by the myriad of results you’ll get from online searches. My tips? 

  • Use those filters to the max—look through all your options and select all the preferences that you have (specialty, in-person or telehealth, etc.) in order to narrow down the list. 
  • Read the bios carefully and see which ones you’re drawn to. Remember when we asked you why you’re seeking therapy? This is where it comes into play! Do they specifically mention working with folks with ADHD? Helping folks through trauma? Note where your goals and ideals line up with their mission statements.
  • Pick three (you can always come back!) to do deep dives on. Double check and make sure they’re covered under insurance if needed, and see if they’re taking any new clients. 

Anything else I should know? 

Absolutely, and we’re glad you asked. 

Online info isn’t always up-to-date

Everyone makes mistakes and spaces on updates—make sure you call offices and confirm important details that you read about therapists online. 

NEVER force yourself to break the bank

Don’t go out of budget! Make sure you’re selecting a therapist that you’d be able to maintain regular appointments with, if that’s what you need, and try to ensure this before starting regular sessions. It’s harder to break a connection once you start one, and there are so many options out there. 

Communicate your needs

If you have specific needs, or you feel that a therapist isn’t working for you—say it! It doesn’t benefit you to lie for someone else’s perceived comfort. As long as you’re respectful and polite, there’s nothing wrong with sharing how you feel. Especially to a mental health care provider. 

It’s not always going to be a match

Just like dating, the first therapist you meet might not be a good fit. Try not to let it discourage you. If you need a break between initial sessions, that’s 100% okay. But there’s a connection out there that will work for you–keep seeking it. 

But don’t expect fireworks

Yeah, you’ve got ideals—we just chatted about that! But know that therapy is a process that involves building trust, and therapists are trained to build that trust while maintaining firm boundaries. You may not hit it off and start making breakthroughs immediately, but that alone doesn’t mean the process isn’t working. Take your time and take it easy on yourself. Being brave enough to see someone is a huge step, and that deserves celebration. 

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