How to know if a therapist is right for you comes down to asking the right questions and knowing if you feel comfortable. In this image, a young woman sits cross-legged on a couch across from a therapist with a laptop. The girl's palms are facing up, as if she's telling a story.
Ba Bunansa - Online Therapist in Dallas TX

Ba Bunansa, MS, LPC, NCC, BC-TMH
I am an LGBTQIA+-affirming therapist for Texas teens, adults, and the AAPI community. I work with teens and adults online throughout Texas and in person for residents of Plano and surrounding areas.

Knowing what questions to ask to determine if a therapist is right for you can feel overwhelming. 

There are so many out there, each with their own unique background, experience, perspective, and personality. 

And your relationship with your therapist will most likely be a determining factor in how helpful therapy is for you.1

So much so that there’s even a term for it: the therapeutic alliance isn’t just a measure of how much you like a therapist (though that certainly counts!)—it’s a determination of how well you mesh, including agreement on your goals for therapy, your timeline, the process you undertake, and more. 

It’s truly an indication of your fit for each other.

So how do you know if a therapist is right for you? What questions should you ask the therapist to make sure? Should you try to stick it out with a therapist who doesn’t feel like a good fit? (Spoiler alert: no!) 

What can you do to ensure a successful match? 

Questions To Ask a Therapist

How do you figure out if a therapist is the right one for you? Asking the therapist the following questions can help you make the right choice.

What methods and approaches does the therapist use? 

Different therapists approach therapy in different ways, and it’s okay to ask about their practice. Some are more active during sessions, for example, while others choose to be more passive. They may use common techniques you’ve heard of already, like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or EMDR, or they may incorporate and blend parts of various techniques to suit each of their clients’ needs.

If you aren’t familiar with a method they mention, or if you’re unclear about their style, don’t hesitate to ask them for details.

Does the therapist have experience working with the issues you’re experiencing? 

Therapists can address a variety of challenges, and it’s important to work with someone who has training and experience in the things you’re dealing with. This might include depression, anxiety, family or identity struggles, self-esteem, or any number of other issues.

What is the therapist’s availability? 

Depending on your specific situation, you may need or want a therapist who can see you more or less often. Does your therapist have the availability to see you weekly, or is every two weeks okay? 

Some therapists have more availability than others for spontaneous phone calls or extra sessions—are these things you think you’ll need?

There are also questions to ask yourself.

Your therapist’s answers are only one piece of the puzzle; you also need to know what you’re looking for in a therapist to determine your comfort level with someone new.

What are your preferences? 

What type of person would you feel most comfortable with? Do you prefer male or female, younger or older, fresh out of school, or more experienced? Perhaps you’re looking for a therapist who shares your cultural background or specializes in the LGBTQIA+ community. 

There’s something to be said for staying open-minded, but you want to prioritize your own comfort when it comes to finding a therapist that’s right for you. If you feel strongly about who you prefer to work with, don’t be afraid to say so.

What does your gut say? 

The best question you can ask yourself is, “Do I feel comfortable and at ease with this person?” Do you feel safe sharing your challenges and feelings? Do you feel heard and understood? Do you feel like this person can help you work through your issues?

At the end of the day, the only person who can decide if a therapist is a good fit for you is, well, you. There’s no right or wrong answer other than what feels right for you at this particular time and place in your life and on your journey!

How To Know if a Therapist Is Right for You—And What It Feels Like if They Aren’t

You’ve done your research and you’ve chosen a therapist. Within the first couple sessions, you should have a feeling about whether you and this therapist are a good fit. 

Here are some signs that you’ve found a good match:

  • You feel comfortable and safe during sessions. Your therapist takes steps to ensure your comfort and ease. Do you feel comfortable in the environment? Do you feel like the therapist you’re seeing is a safe person to be completely honest with? 
  • They adjust their approach to your specific needs. Everyone has different goals during therapy. Different people need different approaches that will help to achieve those goals. Your therapist should be receptive and accommodating to your needs. They should be flexible with their approach.
  • They respect your boundaries. Being honest is important, but you might need time to feel comfortable discussing certain issues. Your therapist should respect this and work with you to understand your process and identify a mutually-agreeable pace. You shouldn’t feel rushed or pressured in your therapy sessions. 
  • They give you tools. People usually seek therapy because they’re looking for guidance when it comes to handling the challenging things in their lives. Once your therapist pinpoints those issues, they can help you develop the tools to deal with them as they come up.
  • You feel heard and validated. Look for verbal and nonverbal cues that you’re being heard and validated—cues like eye contact and facial expressions. Your therapist should also show obvious interest in what you’re saying, ask questions for clarification, and acknowledge your experiences and feelings.

On the other hand, these signs indicate your therapist might not be a great fit:

  • You feel judged or shamed. Trust is crucial between a therapist and their client. If you feel like you aren’t safe sharing your feelings because you feel your therapist will judge you, it’s not a good fit. A good therapist will make you feel respected and understood without judgment.
  • They overshare about themselves. A therapist may share something about their life if they find it might be valuable to your healing. But if they share frequently and unprompted, that’s a sign your therapist isn’t putting professional boundaries into place.
  • You don’t feel comfortable. Feeling comfortable with your therapist is essential to the therapeutic process. If you don’t feel comfortable, you won’t want to share honestly, which will hinder the progress you need to make on your way to healing. 
  • They use a one-size-fits-all approach. If your therapist isn’t adapting their approach to fit your specific needs, that’s a red flag. You have specific needs with therapy. You shouldn’t feel like you’re being sold on someone’s approach if you don’t think it’ll be helpful to you.
  • You don’t feel heard. Active listening is a crucial skill that every good therapist should have. You shouldn’t feel like your therapist is distracted or not listening to you. Everyone has off days, but for the most part, you should feel like your therapist’s attention is on you during your sessions.

With the right information, finding a therapist who’ll be a good fit doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Being mindful of the interactions you have with your therapist and asking the right questions can help you determine whether or not you’ve made an appropriate match.

A Therapist Who’s Right for You Can Be a Key Piece of Your Healing Journey

Finding the right therapist can be a valuable step on your way to healing. Sharing your innermost thoughts and feelings in a comfortable, trusting space is the most important aspect of finding a therapist who’s a good match.

But if you’re not comfortable or don’t feel that it’s a good match, there’s nothing wrong with moving on. You’re free to share these concerns with your therapist, as well—you may find you’re both in agreement about it not being the best fit!

Whether or not you decide to share your reasoning, it’s always best to communicate clearly that you won’t be returning. Try not to “ghost” or just not show up for your appointments. Because chances are, that therapist is a good fit for someone else, and you don’t want to be the reason someone else has to wait longer to be seen.

A great fit for you is out there—keep looking, and you’ll find them!

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Ba Bunansa - Online Therapist in Dallas TX

Ba Bunansa, MS, LPC, NCC, BC-TMH
I am an LGBTQIA+-affirming therapist for Texas teens, adults, and the AAPI community. I work with teens and adults online throughout Texas and in person for residents of Plano and surrounding areas.

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