Skip to main content

Choosing a Therapist

How to find the best therapist for your situation

When looking for a practitioner for yourself, a loved one, or your situation, it’s a great idea to research and ask questions. The following suggestions may be helpful in your search.

First become aware of the differences between different types of mental health practitioners.
Do you want to see a person who has dedicated postgraduate training in working with mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, trauma? If the answer is yes, then a Clinical Psychologist is appropriate. Are you looking for medication? If so, then a Psychiatrist might be the more appropriate person for your treatment and you will need to ask your General Practitioner for a suitable referral.
When choosing a therapist, be aware that there is a lot of variety amongst Clinical Psychologists
…they will use different approaches to therapy and have varying interpersonal styles. Some see only adults, some see only children, and some see families- some will provide services to all three. The different types of approach to therapy will include work with groups, or with an individual or couple. There are also a variety of approaches a Clinical Psychologist might take to therapy such as mindfulness, Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, Person Centred therapy- to name just a few. The list is very long, and many experienced Clinical Psychologists are adept at a variety of different therapeutic approaches. It is important that the therapist you choose has expertise in the issues/s you wish to bring for therapy.
Do you have a gender and/or age preference?
Some people don’t care if their therapist is male or female, old or young, but for some people this choice is important. Make the choice that makes the most sense to you. The same goes for considerations like cultural backgrounds. Sometimes it helps to find a Clinical Psychologist with a similar background to your own, or one who understands your cultural background.
Some other questions you might wish to ask

Does the therapist have postgraduate training in mental health?

Do they have expertise and experience with the issue/s you wish to work on?

Do they use a particular approach to therapy (e.g. CBT) or do they use an eclectic approach?

What are their fees? Are their fees rebatable through Medicare or your private health fund? Can you access the higher Medicare rebate? (Clinical Psychologists attract a higher rebate)

How long have they been in practice?

Friends and family can be a useful and helpful source of recommendations
…as they might have experience with someone who helped them or know someone who has been helped. It’s worth asking. Or, your General Practitioner might help to guide you in this choice.
Other factors for you to consider when making a choice includes things as such as location, hours they work and their availability

…(i.e. how long until you can have your first session and subsequent follow-up sessions after that). These and other considerations important to you will help you select a good fit.

When thinking about your choice, it’s helpful to be aware that change is what you are usually wanting when you go to therapy. And, change often feels uncomfortable. Changing attitudes, behaviours, or thought processes (whatever is keeping you stuck or distressing to you) can produce distress or anxiety because old ways often feel comfortable. A clinical psychologist will raise issues that might feel uncomfortable. This is a sign that the therapy is working. It is at these times that it’s important to understand that your clinical psychologist has your best interests in mind. So, when choosing a clinical psychologist, it is not necessarily the one who is nice, or feels the most comfortable, but the one who is willing to confront issues and support you through any distress you may feel as you develop new ways of coping, thinking and behaving.