Psychotherapy, also referred to as “talk therapy,” or simply therapy, is a procedure through which psychological issues are approached by interaction between an individual and a skilled clinician (Herkov, 2016).  Therapy sessions are focused, time-limited and take place weekly for 45-50 minutes for each session.

Psychotherapy consists more than just discussing one’s problems, even though most psychotherapies center discourse between the therapist and the patient.  Although family members and friends can listen and try to help an individual to feel better by giving astute guidance, that is not considered psychotherapy.  Rather, it involves a professional rapport between a clinician and a patient that rests on therapeutic procedures and precepts (Herkov, 2016).  Put simply, the sole purpose of the therapeutic relationship is for the clinician to help the patient and that relationship requires nothing except payment for the services rendered.  This is a key point, as it allows the patient the comfort of revealing anything without the concern that the information is going to be divulged outside of the office.

Therapy can take place in many forms.  The clinician can conduct individual counseling, couples counseling or family counseling.  The patient decides what he/she wants to accomplish and treatment goals are established with the clinician’s guidance.  So, with an abundant number of therapists in private practice, how is one to choose the right clinician for one’s psychological needs?  If one was thinking of investing in a new vehicle, obviously one would take into consideration his/her needs, the budget, specifications of the car, what reviews have said about the performance of the car, etc.  When looking for a therapist, it is just as important to apply the same manner of inquiries.

As a psychotherapist, one of the first requirements I would recommend when searching for a therapist, is that the clinician is registered with local and state agencies that provide legal and ethical guidelines for the licensure of the therapist.  It is very important that when selecting a therapist for your psychological needs, to make sure that he/she is in good standing with the license-issuing organization.  This means that the license is up to date.

Secondly, it is important to look for a therapist that specializes in the specific clinical issue for which you are needing counseling.  It is perfectly alright to ask the therapist about the training he/she received, how many years he/she has been in practice, in what capacity has he/she dealt with your particular psychological issue and what success he/she has had treating the condition.

Thirdly, it is important to note that not all treatment modalities in the field of psychology are the same.  Psychotherapy does not consist of a “cookie cutter” approach to treating issues.  What works for one individual may not be the appropriate treatment plan for another.  That said, I highly recommend that consumers seek clinicians who have had extensive training in evidence-based treatments.  In other words, choosing a therapist whose approaches to treatment and techniques that he/she utilizes are based on scientific evidence.

Lastly, as essential as the above suggestions are, the bottom line is that one cannot just rush into this decision, since the therapist one chooses will determine the quality of the professional relationship between patient and clinician.  A lot of research supports the notion that the key element for effective therapy is the nature of the therapeutic relationship.  Therefore, an individual has to trust their intuition as to how the therapist makes him/her feel.  It is essential to pay attention to how you feel when you are talking to the clinician.  After all, you are about to share some of the most private matters of your life.  You definitely want the best suitable clinician for your need.