How to select a therapist who will help and not hurt. A project of Metanoia Communications


9 - Choosing a Therapist To Call

You start to build a secure frame long before you start therapy. The process begins the first time you consider calling a therapist for an appointment. The way in which you find out about the therapist, the time while you are deciding whether to call, when you leave the first message on the answering machine, the first phone conversation when you arrange an appointment -- these are events that have an important effect on your therapy before it even starts. For that reason, its important to talk about how you find and contact your therapist.

How do you choose a therapist to call? This is the biggest question most of us have -- AND its the hardest to get answered in a meaningful, reliable way. Publications written by mental health professionals are mainly marketing tools. A pamphlet from a professional association will, naturally, tell you its members are the most reliable. An article by a therapist will espouse the credentials he/she happens to have.

I want to give you some better information. Well, at least I want to point you toward some better information. It is far beyond the scope of this article (and probably beyond your attention span) to offer a comprehensive description of the over 300 varieties of counselors and psychotherapists in the U.S. today. But I think I can summarize it quickly, so youll be better equipped to make a responsible choice.

  1. Start by getting a professional referral.
  2. Take into consideration the therapist's qualifications.
  3. Evaluate that therapist yourself, using encoded messages from your unconscious.

Next: How you find out about the therapist is important >>

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Table of Contents


  1. Why I wrote this article
  2. How to tell if a therapist is competent, or not
  3. What psychotherapy isand why you need to know
  4. The secret that you already know
  5. How a good therapist makes you feel safe
  6. The perfect therapist
  7. Privacy: the essential ingredient
  8. Non-judgmental acceptance: you deserve it
  9. How to choose a therapist to call
  10. How you find out about the therapist
  11. Therapist credentials: the truth revealed
  12. First contact. Watch out for these red flags!
  13. Your first session: what should happen
  14. Safety is in the details
  15. Now what?

Copyright 1991,1996, 1999 Martha Ainsworth. All rights reserved. Please refer to reprint information before reprinting or distributing all or any part of this text.


This resource is hosted by mental health information at Psych Central.