How to Choose a Good Therapist

Depositphotos 13888988 stock photo dog psychology
Finding a good therapist can be like finding a good plumber, accountant, or dentist.  It can feel like looking for a needle in a haystack, but once you do find a good one you are glad that you took the steps to make it happen.  For most people this search can feel intimidating and confusing leading them to put off counseling longer than needed.

Here are some things that I would suggest in finding the right therapist for you.  Take time to become aware of what it is you need and what you are looking for in a counselor.   Being a psychologist and having a Ph.D. does not necessarily make the therapist better than counselors with a Master’s degree.  There are many factors in addition to education that make up therapeutic competence.  Read what the person has to say about themselves online as well as what their reviews are saying. Do your research on the counselor and look into the types of therapy they offer to determine if the therapist is right for you.  Ask people and professionals who you respect and value their opinion for references.  Many people have participated in therapy and are open to sharing the names of good psychologist and counselors.  You can also view my article
Warning: Therapy May Be Hazardous to Your Health here to give you further information on choosing a counselor.

Narrow your selection down to two or three individuals and then going to the top one on the list for a visit.  If the therapist is not a good fit, then I suggest going to others.  It is perfectly fine to therapist shop.  For adolescents, I suggest that parents include the adolescent in the search and allow them to counselor shop, but that they have to eventually choose at least one of the agreed upon options.  Some therapists are willing to have a short consultation on the phone which allows you to do an interview process which can help you narrow down the search.  This can give you a much better sense of who the person is and if they will be a good fit for you.  After giving a brief synopsis of you situation and what you are looking for you could ask:

  • What is your experience helping people in these areas.
  • Can you share a bit about how you help people.
  • How do you feel working with this issue.
  • What are your costs, fees and do you take insurance.

Make sure you connect with the person, feel safe with them and sense that they are competent and effective enough for you to make the changes you want to make.  If you are not making the changes you want, talk with the counselor about it or consider finding another counselor.  Again it is OK to therapist shop… meaning if you aren’t getting what you need then I suggest going to someone else who can help you.  I guarantee that there are therapists that can help you get what you need.  You are obviously ready for change, otherwise you would not have read this far.  In summary I suggest working with a person that you like, trust, and that is capable of helping you make those changes happen.

Feel free to email about what you are looking for in a psychologist and I will be happy to send you a list of names based upon what you are looking for.

Book List

My Favorite Books
The Unethered Soul, Michael Singer
Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself, Joe Dispenza (and most anything else by him – check out his youtube videos)
The Tao of Pooh, Benjamin Hoff
Tuesdays with Morrie, Mitch Albom
Everything I Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten, Robert Fulghum
The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom, Don Miguel Ruiz
The Power of Vulnerability: Teachings of Authenticity, Connection, and Courage , Brené Brown PhD
The Power of Now and A New Earth, Eckhart Tolle
Emotional Intelligence, Daniel Goleman
Healing the Child Within, Charles L. Whitfield, M.D.
The Road Less Traveled: A New Psychology of Love, Traditional Values, and Spiritual Growth, M. Scott Peck, M.D.
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
The Prophet, Kahlil Gibran
The Power of Myth, Joseph Campbell
Most any book by Malcolm Gladwell: Blink, Tipping Point, Outliers, Talking to Strangers
Siddhartha, by Hermann Hesse
Way of the Peaceful Warrior, Dan Milman
Illusions and Jonathan Livingston Seagull, Richard Bach
Way of the Superior Man, David Deida
Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage by Alfred Lansing

The Gift of Fear: Survival Signals That Protect Us from Violence , Gavin de Becker
A Child Called It: One Child's Courage to Survive, Dave Pelz
Psychopath Free: Recovering from Emotionally Abusive Relationships, Jackson MacKenzie
Why Does He Do That?: Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling: Lundy Bancroft
Healing from Hidden Abuse: A Journey of Recovery, Shannon Thomas

In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts, Gabor Maté
Recovery: Freedom from Our Addictions, Russell Brand
Allen Carr's Easy Way To Stop Smoking by Allen Carr
Allen Carr's Easy Way To Stop Drinking by Allen Carr


Anger-Taming a Powerful Emotion,Gary Chapman
The Dance of Anger (for women), Harriet Lerner
The Art of Not Giving a Fuck, Cristin April Fray
The Cow in the Parking Lot, A Zen Approach to Overcoming Anger, Leonard Scheff

The Untethered Soul, Michael Singer
Rewire Your Anxious Brain, Catherine M. Pittman PhD
Change Your Brain, Change Your Life, Daniel G. Amen M.D.
The Mindfulness Workbook for Anxiety, Tanya J Peterson
Anxious for Nothing: Finding Calm in a Chaotic World, Max Lucado
The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook, Edmund J. Bourne PhD
Improve Your Social Skills, Daniel Wendler

Boundaries Updated and Expanded Edition, Henry Cloud
Girl, Stop Apologizing: A Shame-Free Plan for Embracing and Achieving Your Goals, Rachel Hollis
Assertiveness: How to Stand Up for Yourself and Still Win the Respect of Others, Judy Murphy
The Art of Everyday Assertiveness; Speak Up. Set Boundaries. Say No. Take Back Control. Get What You Want. Patrick King

Boundaries Updated and Expanded Edition, Henry Cloud
Codependent No More, Melody Beattie
The Language of Letting Go: Daily Meditations, Melody Beattie
No More Mr Nice Guy, Robert A. Glover
Whole Again: Healing Your Heart and Rediscovering Your True Self After Toxic Relationships and Emotional Abus, Jackson MacKenzie

Chronic Pain or Illness
Full Catastrophe Living by Jon Kabat-Zinn
Mind Over Mood: Change How You Feel by Changing the Way You Think by Dennis Greenberger
Explain Pain by David Butler
How to Live Well with Chronic Pain and Illness: A Mindful Guide by Toni Bernhard
You Are Not Your Pain: Using Mindfulness to Relieve Pain, Reduce Stress and Restore Well-Being by Vidyamala Burch

Communication and Social Skills
Say What You Mean: A Mindful Approach to Nonviolent Communication, Oren Jay Sofer
Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life: Life-Changing Tools for Healthy Relationships, by Marshall B. Rosenberg
I Hear You: The Surprisingly Simple Skill Behind Extraordinary Relationships, Michael S. Sorensen
Improve Your Social Skills, Daniel Wendler
How to Talk to Anyone: 92 Little Tricks for Big Success in Relationships, by Leil Lowndes

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life, Mark Manson
The Happiness Trap: How to stop struggling and start living. Harris, R.
Rethinking Depression: How to shed mental health labels and create personal meaning. Maisel, E.
Learned Optimism: How to Change Your Mind and Your Life, Martin Seligman
The Mindful Way through Depression by J. Mark Williams

Conscious Uncoupling: 5 Steps to Living Happily Even After by Katherine Woodward Thomas
Transformational Divorce: Discover Yourself, Reclaim Your Dreams, and Embrace Life's Unlimited Possibilities by Karen Kahn Wilson
Co-Parenting Works!: Helping Your Children Thrive After Divorce by Tammy Daughtry

When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times by Pema Chödrön
Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy, Sheryl Sandberg
The Grief Recovery Handbook, John W. James
When Bad Things Happen to Good People, Harold S. Kushner
Grief Day By Day by Jan Warner

10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress, Dan Harris
Make Your Bed: Little Things That Can Change Your Life...And Maybe the World, Admiral William H. McRaven
The Art of Happiness, 10th Anniversary Edition: A Handbook for Living, Dalai Lama
The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life, Mark Manson

Heart Break
The Wisdom of a Broken Heart: How to Turn the Pain of a Breakup Into Healing, Insight, and New Love by Susan Piver
Getting Past Your Breakup: How to Turn a Devastating Loss into the Best Thing That Ever Happened to You by Susan J. Elliott
When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times by Pema Chödrön
Calling in "The One" 7 Weeks to Attract the Love of Your Life, Katherine Woodward Thomas

The Headspace Guide to Meditation and Mindfulness: How Mindfulness Can Change Your Life in Ten Minutes a Day by Andy Puddicombe
Making Space by Thich Nhat Hanh
Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind by Shunryu Suzuki

Wherever You Go, There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life, Jon Kabat-Zinn
The Power of Now by Eckart Tolle
The Headspace Guide to Meditation and Mindfulness: How Mindfulness Can Change Your Life in Ten Minutes a Day by Andy Puddicombe
Mindfulness: An Eight-Week Plan for Finding Peace in a Frantic World by Mark Williams and Danny Penman
Mindfullness in Plain English HENEPOLA GUNARATANA

Men’s Issues
5 Love Languages- Men’s Addition, Gary Chapman
No More Mr Nice Guy, Robert A. Glover
Way of the Superior Man, David Deida

Positive Discipline, Jane Nelson (This has multiple books in the series based on age groups)
Parenting from the Inside out, Daniel Seligman
How to Talk so Little Kids Will Listen, Joanna Faber
Attached: How It Can Help YouFind - and Keep – Love, by Amir Levine
The Whole-Brain Child: 12 Revolutionary Strategies to Nurture Your Child's Developing Mind

Attached: How It Can Help You Find - and Keep – Love, by Amir Levine
5 Love Languages, Gary Chapman
Mating in Captivity, Ester Perels
Hold Me Tight, Sue Johnson
Men are From Mars, Women are From Venus, John Gray

Self Esteem
You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life, Jen Sincero
The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life, Mark Manson
The Gifts of Imperfection: Embrace Who You Are, by Brené Brown

Sex and Sexuality
The New Good Vibrations Guide to Sexuality
Mating in Captivity, Ester Perels
Come as You Are: The Surprising New Science that Will Transform Your Sex Life, Emily Nagoski
Urban Tantra: Sacred Sex for the Twenty-First Century, Barbara Carrellas

Men, Women and Worthiness: The Experience of Shame and the Power of Being, Brené Brown PhD
Girl, Stop Apologizing: A Shame-Free Plan for Embracing and Achieving Your Goals, Rachel Hollis
Healing the Child Within, Charles L. Whitfield, M.D

The Body Keeps The Score, Bessel van der Kolk
It Didn't Start with You: How Inherited Family Trauma Shapes Who We Are and How to End the Cycle, Mark Wolynn
The Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills Workbook, Matthew McKay
Getting Past Your Past: Take Control of Your Life with Self-Help Techniques from EMDR Therapy, Francine Shapiro
Waking the Tiger: Healing Trauma, Peter Levine
The PTSD Workbook: Simple, Effective Techniques for Overcoming Traumatic Stress Symptoms, by Mary Beth Williams and Soili Poijula

Unwanted Sexual Experiences
Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
Light Shines in the Darkness: My Healing Journey Through Sexual Abuse by Lucille F. Sider
After Silence: Rape and My Journey Back by Nancy Venable Raine
The Rape Recovery Handbook: Step-by-Step Help for Survivors of Sexual Assault by Aphrodite T. Matsakis