How Can You Tell If Your Therapist Is The Right Fit For Your Needs?

Luckily, the idea of therapy and outwardly acknowledging your mental health issues is more accepted than it was in the past. But with the COVID-19 pandemic came a rise in anxiety, depression, and an overall need for therapists, according to the American Psychological Association. So if you are able to see a therapist regularly, you're in pretty good shape. It's nice to have another person's perspective on the tough issues going on in your life, especially when it's someone that can give professional advice and walk you through how to deal with things.

However, how do you know if your therapist is the right fit for you? Experts say to wait a good few months of sessions so you can really tell if a therapist is working for you or not. But there are some tell-tale signs that your therapist might not be the best, either for you or just in general. Are they someone you feel like you can trust and be honest with? Do they validate your feelings and experiences? Are you finding that, even if that's the case, they aren't really helping you with your issues and instead are kind of like a paid chit-chat buddy? These and more are things to think about when deciding if your therapist is the right fit for your needs.

You have trust in your therapist

As stated above, trust is a major component of your relationship with your therapist. According to Yahoo, "trust and respect" for the provider could get you to open up more and listen to their advice, Grace Dowd, a therapist, said. "... You're more likely to get something out of therapy — and want to go to therapy at all — if you like the person you're working with." Even though it's a professional one, David B. Feldman, Ph.D. author, speaker, and professor of counseling psychology at Santa Clara University, wrote for Psychology Today that "at its core, therapy is a relationship." Especially for those sessions where you're going through some tough material, you want to have someone there you can rely on while navigating trauma and deep emotions.

Along with trust, there are some logistical things to think about too. Feldman writes that something as simple as availability can make or break a client-therapist relationship. They might be great, but if you are someone in need of frequent sessions and they have only once-a-month appointments, that is not going to work. Do you need someone with a clinic that has a 24/7 hotline? Don't be afraid to navigate for yourself and your needs.

Your therapist works for your needs

Another question to ask yourself if you're wondering if your therapist is a good fit is if they mesh with your needs. Everybody is different; what works for one person might not for the other. Alisa Kamis-Brinda, a licensed clinical social worker and licensed psychotherapist, told The Cut that clients need to "consider your gut feeling to see if it feels right talking to this therapist." Feeling "heard and understood" by them is a big plus, she said.

Along with that gut feeling, does your therapist specialize or have experience in the area that you want to hit most with them? If you feel like your therapy sessions are lacking, this could be why. If you want strategies to regulate your ADHD symptoms or need to talk about religious trauma, and your therapist can't or isn't giving that to you, it might be time to leave. Figuring out what you want out of a therapist and what you're looking for in one is tough, but it makes all the difference.

If you haven't chosen a therapist yet or have an upcoming first evaluation, make sure to create a list of questions you can ask them to determine if they're a good fit from the get-go. There aren't any right or wrong answers to these questions. Only you will be able to know the right answers to your questions, such as do they give "homework" to their clients or how their sessions are structured.

Here are some therapist red flags to consider

There are, of course, really serious grievances some therapists can commit that quickly prove they're unfit for you. Firstly, make sure that sessions feel professional, not like your therapist is a friend or partner. David B. Feldman, author and professor, wrote in Psychology Today that there are appropriate boundaries that should not be crossed. If they are, it's a good sign to call it quits.

Jonathan Alpert, a psychotherapist and author, wrote for the New York Times that a therapist needs to be more than just a listener, they need to help you. "... If the therapist does nothing more than nod his head and provide vague utterances of reassurance like 'I see' or ask questions that might seem dismissive (like the classic 'And how does that make you feel?'), then move on," he wrote, per The Cut. You're not going to make progress with a therapist that does this, and you might not want to share things with them either. Other red flags can include constantly checking the time, guilting you, talking over you, or speaking more than you.

Remember, you're paying for this therapist, Cameron Murphey, a psychotherapist, told Yahoo. And only you will know if they're a good fit or not for you. Take some time to think about it, and if you aren't getting the help you need, try to find another therapist.