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What to Consider When Looking for a Therapist

As individuals are continuing to become more open to receiving therapy, I’ve noticed that even though many are mentally to begin therapy, they may also be emotionally overwhelmed around the process of looking for a therapist. I often tell prospective clients that looking for a therapist is like dating. You may have to chat to many before you find the right fit. In this article, I am going to share with you, some of the variables to consider, as well as general tip on how to go about looking for a therapist. This is not a sponsored posts, so any links I share is because I just believe in them to be adequate sources.

Therapeutic Orientation

Understanding the therapeutic framework(s) that your potential therapists believe in and operate from is somewhat equivalent to understanding the family or values that has shaped a friend or significant other. There are over 50 therapeutic frameworks and most therapists pull from several. When a therapist goes to school, no matter if they’re background is social work, psychology, clinical counseling or marriage and family therapy, they are taught about human behavior from various perspectives. Those perspectives guide their approaches, tools, and understanding of a clients’ particulars needs and limits/strengths. For example, I am very introspective based, therefore my sessions are not typically venting spaces. I ask my clients a lot of questions, and provide deep dive questions and worksheets outside of session.

When you inquire with a therapist, ask them about their approach, and how they may go about supporting you. Here is a great list of various therapy approaches .

Therapy Modality

Are you looking for therapy for a child, adolescent, adult, couple, partner arrangement or family? Are you looking for in-office sessions, online therapy, or in my case, eco-therapy? All therapists don’t serve all populations. There are some therapists who are strictly online. There are some that are just in-person. There are others who offer both for flexibility. For myself, as a mindfulness focused practitioner, I offer sessions outside, which we refer to as eco-therapy.

Private Practice or Community Based

There are therapists that work in private practice and therapists that work in community organizations. Those who work in private practice tend to have higher fees, whereas those in community organizations may offer lower fees or no fees at all. Community organizations typically receive financial support from local, state and federal agencies to provide mental health resources to the community. Those in private practice may take insurance or allow for private pay. Community organizations will often have public resources to offer you, in supporting your psychological needs. Those in private practice may make outside referrals, and share private resources with you.

Costs/ Forms of Payment

All therapists have different payment systems. If you have insurance, you want to check if your therapist takes your insurance/ are in network with your provider. If the answer is no, you can also inquire if your therapist provides superbills, or if your insurance provider accepts superbills. Superbills are summary of your services, and some insurance providers allow you to pay out of pocket, but may reimburse you up until a designated amount, for the services rendered. For example, if the therapist charges $150 for a session, and you find out your provider reimburses up to $75 or 50%, you will initially pay $150, but after submitting your superbill, your insurance company will send you a check for $75. When neither of these apply, you will have to pay cash. You may see the words cash pay, private pay, or out-of-pocket on a therapists’ website or therapy profile. For clinicians that take private pay, they will likely have an online payment system set up.

It is often known that costs can be a barrier to some people having access to therapy. Most therapists base their fees on the average of their city, the cost of living, their educational/credential level, as well as their demand. When it comes to therapy, there are some therapist who have a public price, and some may offer limited sliding scale (income/situation based) fees. There are also therapists who offer pro-bono services.


Professionals use the term therapist or psychotherapist, however, there are different types of clinicians, and many certifications. There are professionals who are licensed and those who are pre-licensed. Those who are licensed have gone through years of practice under the supervision of a licensed clinician, and have passed a necessary state board exam. Those who are pre-licensed have not completed their board exam yet, but may be working towards it. People may have different reasons for this, however its important to know that both can support you. There are Licensed Clinical Social Workers (LCSW), who are Masters level Social Workers. There are Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists (LMFT) who have a Master in Marriage and Family Therapy , Licensed Professional Clinical Counselors (LPCC) are Master Level Clinicians and Psychologists (PsyD or PhD Psychology, Clinical Psychology,) who are Doctorate Level Clinicians. There can also be individuals who practice with Doctorates in Marriage and Family Therapy or Social Work. Due to the additional certifications in various theoretical approaches or working with specific mental illness diagnosis, someone can acquire additional credentials within their field over the years.

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