How do I…? Find a therapist that’s right for you

You’ve decided to start counseling, but how do you find a therapist who’s right for you? I offer tips on where and how to find a therapist, getting you closer to finding your ideal counselor.

The decision to start counseling is a big step in your personal journey. You may feel a little uncertain about the process, but you’re motivated to roll up your sleeves and dive into figuring things out together with a therapist. So, how do you find a therapist?

If you’ve never been in counseling before, finding and choosing a therapist may feel overwhelming, or perhaps even a little daunting. If you happen to live in a metro area, a quick google search will likely reveal hundreds of potential counselors! So when it comes to choosing, it’s helpful to remember that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to finding a therapist. Instead, your goal is to find and connect with the right therapist for you. Here are some ways to start this process.


Narrow down your options: what initial qualities are you looking for in a therapist?

Before starting your search, have some ideas of what you are hoping to gain from counseling. This will help you find a therapist who specializes in areas that match with your goals. Think about what you are needing some support or help with and make a list. For example, you might want to work on building positive relationships, processing through past experiences, or coping with anxiety. Then, think about important qualities, personal styles, or identities that matter to you in your therapist. For example, maybe you’d like a counselor who identifies with a specific cultural group or gender, or maybe you’d like to work with someone bilingual, or maybe you’d like to work with someone who provides a particular type of therapy, like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.

Using search engines to find a therapist

To get a feel for who is in your area and what services are available, a great place to start exploring potential therapists is to use your favorite search engine. Use the lists you created to help you generate keywords that will help your initial search be more focused and helpful. 

Try to be as specific as you can with your search terms. This will help narrow down search results, and get you closer to finding a therapist that can support you with your goals for counseling.

how to find a therapist

Using online directories

There are also several online directories that can be helpful places to find a therapist. Online directories not only help you browse therapists in your state or city, but they provide listings based on key terms you enter, like area of clinical specialty, insurance type, and so on. Also, these directories also provide lots of information about the therapists, including a bio that helps you get an initial feel for their style and approach to care, as well as their availability.

I’ve listed some of the more popular online directories here. Each one is a little different, so see which one might work best for your needs:

Psychology Today is one of the longest-running online directories and is used by thousands of therapists. Because so many therapists are listed here, having good, focused keywords will help you narrow down your search results.

Therapy Den is another great directory that aims to match people with their ideal therapist.

Mental Health Match is not only a directory, but they also help match people with potentially ideal therapists based on their needs and goals for therapy.

Advekit is a directory also helps match people with potentially ideal therapists. They also help you access your insurance benefits that cover out-of-network providers. This can help you save lots of money and time, taking the hassle out of submitting claims to your insurance company.

Referrals from trusted sources

When in doubt about where to find a therapist, it can be helpful to check in with trusted family members, friends, and other health providers (like your primary care doctor) for suggestions or recommendations. Also, your primary care provider likely has a list of trusted counselors they refer patients to. This “word of mouth” approach to finding a counselor can be a great way to learn more about a provider before contacting them, and the more information you have going into the process of starting counseling, the more comfortable you may feel.

Up next, First time in counseling? Part 2: Choose a counselor or therapist that’s right for you.