What to Look for in a Mental Health Therapist

Seeking professional help and support for any mental health challenge is a sign of strength and determination. While there sadly continues to be a stigma around certain aspects of mental health and mental illness, mental health therapy is rapidly becoming a mainstream service. Because of this, there are a lot of therapy options and therapists to choose from. If you decide that counseling is a good option for you, it’s helpful to know what to look for in a mental health therapist.

Therapy is far from a one-size-fits-all approach to mental health and wellbeing. Would it surprise you to know that among all of the different professionals and all the different therapeutic approaches for all the unique challenges people face, there is one single most important factor that predicts the success of therapy?

The number one thing to look for in a mental health therapist is how well their personality fits with yours. The therapeutic relationship, that alliance between counselor and client, is more important than the type of mental health therapy used (such as CBT, DBT, ACT, etc.).

While a therapist’s credentials are of course important, and practical concerns like flexible scheduling do matter, the key is how you connect. This isn’t a friendship, of course, but you need to feel that your therapist listens and deeply understands you. You should feel comfortable and at ease sharing personal aspects of your life. Allow that connection, also known as rapport, to guide you when choosing a therapist.

Recommended Video

Going to a therapist, especially the first time, can be confusing. Watch these tips and find the right therapist for you.


American Psychological Association. (2009). How psychotherapy works. Retrieved from

Shpancer, N. (2016). 10 ways to spot a good therapist. Psychology Today. Retrieved from

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APA Reference
Peterson, T. (2021, September 7). What to Look for in a Mental Health Therapist, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2023, July 23 from

Last Updated: September 7, 2021

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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