What to Look for in a Qualified Mental Health Therapist

Mental health is an important, though often overlooked aspect of holistic health care. One recent study found that around 59 million people in the United States received mental health treatment during the past two years. What is even more encouraging is that 80 percent of those people found that treatment helpful and beneficial to their mental health. Unfortunately, there is still a certain amount of stigma related to seeking mental health. Finding a qualified, reputable therapist is an important step for anybody who feels the need to seek help for any type of mental health issue. Below, we offer a few suggestions of what to look for in a qualified mental health therapist.

Therapists that Offer a Safe Environment

Good therapists understand the importance of a safe, protective, and helpful environment. Talking about mental health issues is obviously stressing for many people, and the physical surroundings of where mental health sessions take place are extremely important for progress to be made. For example, some people might find a clinical, hospital-style environment to be threatening and uninspiring. Similarly, the private office of a clinic where you can hear conversations through the walls obviously doesn’t inspire a sense of confidentiality which should be a central aspect of any therapist you seek out.

A safe and supportive environment is one that is quiet, allowing space for introspection and dialogue between the patient and the therapist. Furthermore, this quiet space needs to be completely free from distractions and intrusions. A trained therapist should offer a structured environment where you know exactly how much time your session will last so that you won´t be unexpectedly interrupted by their next patient knocking on the door. Furthermore, all therapists should willingly turn off and store away their phones so as to give you their full and undivided attention.

Empathy, Curiosity, and a Desire to Understand

On a more personal level, a quality therapist should also be one who exhibits the behaviors of empathy, curiosity, and a desire to understand. Judgment, prejudices, or unwarranted criticism are surefire signs that your therapist is not qualified. Rather, he or she should exhibit an authentic and genuine desire to understand your mental health issue. The questions that he or she asks during your sessions should be directed in a way that helps you to deeper engagement with some of the issues you are facing.

While thorough questioning is one strategy therapists use to help their patients engage with issues and see them from a different perspective, a good therapist also should recognize when a question is overly uncomfortable. They should also be willing to respect certain limitations that you ask for, especially during initial sessions.

Therapists Respect the Need for Confidentiality

Mental health counseling sessions can only be effective if therapists and other mental health care providers are 100 percent committed to respecting your need for privacy and confidentiality. If a patient has even a minimal fear or suspicion that what they share in a private session might be shared publicly, the effectiveness of these sessions will obviously be compromised.

While trust and confidentiality can be hard to gauge, one way to investigate potential therapists is through searching for other client reviews. This is one way for people to find therapists that are highly reviewed and esteemed by other people who have experienced similar mental health problems. Furthermore, asking family or friends for therapists they recommend can help you find a qualified and trustworthy therapy provider.

Where to Look for a Qualified Therapist?

When looking for a qualified therapist, the first thing you need to do is to forget the yellow pages. Anyone can advertise there, and it is simply not a good resource. If you know a professional in the medical health industry, you can ask for their opinion or advice. Furthermore, employee assistance programs at many workplaces might also have a list of qualified therapists that they have worked with in the past.

Helpful online websites such as BetterHelp can help you search for reputable, high-quality therapists in your area through simply typing in your city, state, or zip code. If you don’t want to go to a personal session, organizations like BetterHelp also offer online counseling sessions.

Finding a quality therapist is important for people suffering from any type of mental health problem. The simple advice above can help you find a therapist that will respect your boundaries, create a safe environment for your sessions, exhibit an attitude of empathy, and respect your need for confidentiality.  


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