Therapy 101
May 3, 2024

What to Look for in a Therapist and How to Find the Right One

Written by
Two Chairs Content Team
Reviewed by
Marisa Perera, PhD
Updated on
Therapist and client speak to each other in a therapy room, one with her back to the camera and one smiling, both wearing black shirts

Trying to find a therapist can feel overwhelming — the endless website scrolling, phone calls, and questions about whether it’s going to be the right fit are hard, especially if you’re struggling and are in need of more immediate support.

But, ensuring you and your provider are the right match is essential for long-term success, no matter what you're going through. In fact, research points to your relationship with your therapist as the most important factor in successful therapy, which is why we built Two Chairs (more on that later).

Whether you're seeking therapy for the first time or looking for a new therapist and wondering, "what kind of therapist do I need?", we'll explore a few important things to consider when choosing the right one for you.

What to look for in a therapist

Every person’s needs are different. So, what you might look for in a therapist might differ from what someone else might look for.

But, there are some common factors to consider when understanding what kind of therapist you need, and whether they’re the right fit for you.

Credentials and qualifications

If you’re new to searching for a therapist, understanding what credentials and qualifications you should look for in a potential provider can be a bit confusing. But it’s quite important: finding the right therapist based on credentials ensures they’re qualified to help you with your needs.

Aside from being a licensed provider in your state, look for therapists who have completed a graduate degree in a relevant field, such as psychology (Licensed Psychologist (PsyD or PhD)), counseling (Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) or Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC)), social work (Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW)), or marriage and family therapy (LMFT). 

Some therapists also may have extra certifications in specific therapeutic approaches or techniques. For example, they might hold certifications in Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), or trauma-informed care.

Specializations and areas of expertise

Every therapist brings a unique set of skills and experiences to the table. So, when considering addressing your specific concerns — like anxiety, depression, relationship challenges, or something else entirely — seek out therapists who specialize in those issues.

To find out this information, look for evidence of experience and success in treating similar issues. You can find this through their professional website or testimonials from past clients.

Therapy approaches and techniques

Therapy is not one-size-fits-all. There are lots of approaches and techniques that are often used to meet different needs and preferences.

When looking for a therapist, you might come across providers who offer specific approaches like:

  • Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT): CBT focuses on identifying and challenging negative thought patterns and behaviors that contribute to emotional distress.
  • Mindfulness-Based Techniques: Mindfulness practices cultivate present-moment awareness and acceptance, reducing stress and enhancing overall well-being.
  • Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT): ACT encourages clients to accept their thoughts and feelings without judgment while committing to actions aligned with their values and goals
  • Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT): DBT combines cognitive-behavioral techniques with mindfulness practices to address emotion dysregulation, interpersonal difficulties, and self-destructive behaviors.

Compatibility and personal connection

Therapy requires clients to be open and vulnerable to address their issues. That’s why finding the right therapist  — one that you’re comfortable with and feel connected to — is just as important as assessing credentials and expertise. In fact, personal connection is so important that the lack of it, as research shows, is why one in five clients drop out from therapy after just one session.

If you’re not sure if you’re compatible with your therapist, ask yourself questions like:

  • Do I feel heard and understood during sessions?
  • Do I feel validated and supported?
  • Do they use techniques or interventions that resonate with me? Are they flexible in adapting their approach to meet my needs?
  • Do I feel safe and comfortable opening up to them?
  • Do I trust their expertise and judgment?
  • Do they validate my experiences and emotions without judgment?
  • Do they understand and support my objectives for therapy?

Or, you can avoid the hassle of assessing compatibility by using a provider like Two Chairs that pairs technology with clinical expertise to match you with a therapist who’s right for you. 


Getting the help you need should be as easy and convenient as possible — seeing your therapist shouldn’t be an extra stressor.

That’s why it’s essential to find a therapist who can meet you where you are emotionally and physically — whether online or in person.

If you’d like to meet with your therapist in person, find a provider with nearby therapy locations (like ours in places like Miami, Seattle, Los Angeles, and San Francisco). Or, if you’d like to meet virtually — a great option for those who have rigid schedules and need some extra flexibility — find a provider that doesn’t mind online therapy appointments. At Two Chairs, we offer both virtual and in-person care, and we can help you determine which option is best for you.

Be sure to find someone who can work within the constraints of your schedule, too: it might be helpful for you to find a therapist who offers flexible appointment times like evening or weekend sessions.

Insurance and payment options

Finding the right therapist based on budget is pretty crucial to your therapeutic success, too.

If you have health insurance, check to see if mental health services are covered under your plan and if your provider is in-network or out-of-network. This will help you determine any copayments, deductibles, or coinsurance you may have to pay.

Some therapists offer sliding scale fees based on income, which means they adjust their rates to make therapy more affordable for clients with lower incomes. This can be a helpful option if you don't have insurance or have limited financial resources.

Cultural competence and sensitivity

Every person has a unique background, history, and upbringing that informs who they are. When looking for a therapist, be sure to consider working with someone who is both knowledgeable and sensitive to this — and integrates it into their approach.

Finding a therapist based on their cultural competence might include assessing their:

  • Cultural understanding: Your therapist should be aware of your cultural backgrounds (such as ethnicity, race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, and socioeconomic status) and how they might impact your beliefs, values, behaviors, and experiences or your views on therapy.
  • Cultural respect: Therapists should create a safe and welcoming environment for clients from all backgrounds. (i.e. avoiding assumptions or stereotypes based on cultural or demographic factors).
  • Cultural humility: Therapists should have a willingness to engage in self-reflection, ongoing learning, and humility regarding their own cultural biases and limitations.

At Two Chairs, we take your preferences for cultural background and demographics into account when matching you with a therapist, and we care about delivering culturally responsive and affirmative therapy.

Client reviews and testimonials

Lastly, it's a good idea to read reviews from other people who have worked with your potential therapist or service before.

Just like assessing reviews before purchasing a product or service, looking at a potential therapist’s reviews can give you an idea of what to expect and whether they'll be a good fit for you. You might read reviews that mention approaches, communication style, or reliability. 

How to find the right therapist for your needs

Once you have a sense of what to look for in a therapist, it’s time to start the process of actually finding one.

While there is no one correct way to go about finding a provider, here are a few tips for starting.

Determine your therapy goals

If you’re wondering about how to find a good therapist based on your goals, it’s important to first understand what those objectives are.

If you need help determining these goals, ask yourself questions like:

  • Am I seeking therapy for something specific (anxiety, depression, trauma, relationship issues, etc)?
  • What specific challenges or issues am I facing that I would like to address in therapy?
  • How do these challenges or issues affect my daily life, relationships, and overall well-being?
  • What would I like my life to look like after therapy?
  • How will I know if therapy was successful for me?
  • What are one or two things I’d like to change or be different?
  • Why is it important to me to make these changes?

Understanding your goals will also help you and your therapist know what to talk about in therapy.

Identify potential providers

Ask your network for therapist recommendations

Another simple and easy way to get started on your search for the right therapist is often to reach out to your network and ask. You might consider asking friends, family members, or even your primary care physician for a recommendation.

Choosing the right therapist through referrals is often an easy and reliable way to find a provider without having to jump through too many hoops. But, the process does require you to “interview” potential matches yourself, which may take a bit of time.

Search on reputable databases 

Another great way to find a therapist is through reputable databases. These databases typically have search tools that allow you to sort through specific providers based on what you’re looking for. 

Some sites include:

Just like asking for referrals, searching for a therapist by yourself can take a bit of time and effort. Using a matching service, however, can speed up the process and take the guesswork out of finding your perfect fit.

Let us do the work for you

While all of the above are legitimate ways to find a therapist, it’s a lot of work. One of the best ways to find the right therapist is to go to a practice like Two Chairs, where we get to know you and match you with the right therapist for you.

This research-backed process considers nearly 300 variables to determine the type of therapy and therapist that will be most effective for each individual. Simple, easy, and 98% effective, Two Chairs takes the stress out of finding you the right therapist, so you can get the right help and make progress toward your mental health goals. 

Learn more about Two Chairs client-therapist matching

Schedule a therapist

If you have a therapist in mind at this point, it might be time to reach out to inquire about a first meeting. For many people who are new to the process, learning how to schedule a therapist can be a bit intimidating.

If you use a practice like Two Chairs, you’ll be connected automatically to your personalized provider following your matching appointment. If you’ve found a provider on your own, you’ll first need to contact them — therapists can usually be reached by phone or email. 

Most of these therapists, if they have availability and are a potential fit, will offer a first meeting or consultation process before beginning work together. In essence, a consultation is a mutually beneficial meeting — it allows both you and the therapist to determine if you’re the right fit for each other.

When preparing for your consultation, consider asking questions like:

  • What are your fees?
  • How long is each session?
  • How many weeks, months, etc., do you anticipate working together?
  • What is your approach to therapy?
  • What experience do you have in treating [specific issue or concern]?
  • What is your approach to goal-setting and progress monitoring?
  • How do you handle emergencies or crises outside of regular sessions?
  • What is your availability like?
  • Do you have any specializations?

If you don’t feel like the provider is the right fit after the consultation has ended, that’s okay. Finding the right therapist for you often takes time and effort, and you might have to “interview” a few to find the right fit. 

Trust your gut

At the end of the day, the right therapist should make you feel safe, seen, and comfortable enough to be vulnerable. As you meet with potential therapists, or even begin working with them, continue to check in with how you’re feeling about your progress. 

In general, pay attention to how you feel with this person and if they create a safe and comfortable place for you to learn and grow. At the same time, try to give it a chance, too — sometimes it can take a few sessions to get into a rhythm and really be able to assess the relationship.

Get matched with a therapist at Two Chairs

Understanding what to look for in a therapist and figuring out how to find the right one can be tiring. If you’re struggling with something, taking the time to get help can sometimes feel burdensome. But with Two Chairs, you can find the right therapist with ease.

Using a research-backed matching process, Two Chairs is designed to match you with the right therapist — which research shows is one of the best predictors of successful therapy.  With over a 98% success rate for client-therapist matching, Two Chairs can take the stress out of looking for and finding the right therapist for your needs, no matter what they are.

With Two Chairs, you can get support and work with a trained professional with whom you feel comfortable and safe.

Let us find the right therapist for you

Book Matching Appointment

Let us find the right therapist for you

Book Matching Appointment

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