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Getting Help

How to Find a Qualified Therapist

by Michael Huxford, LP

First and foremost it is important to find a therapist who has good qualifications and training.  Some may say that a good initial match is best and, though they make a considerably valid point, I continue to assert education and skill first.  Let me explain why.

To start, a point on which I think all psychologists, counselors, and social workers will agree is that every good therapeutic endeavor (that is the journey and commitment of counseling) is built on the establishment of a relationship not on an initial impression.  Relationships of all kinds must be built and withstand some struggle before their meaning can be capitalized on.  Further, while an initial impression of a therapist should never be ignored, it is important to understand that a judgment on a first impression is often flawed by previous bias and stigma associated with counseling and that is to say nothing of the interfering factors that accompany the mental health issues bringing the person to counseling in the first place.

Second, while it is certain that the initial sessions with a therapist are useful for you to take their measure and estimate their worth, it is also a time for them to get to know you, attempt to understand your personality and the complexities of your life in a very short period of time.  In sum, give a therapeutic relationship a chance, even if your initial impression is not magnificent.  Therapists are people too with their own set of character quirks.  Rather than on an initial impression judge your therapist’s abilities to empathize with you, their humanness in the face of your vulnerability, and skill over several sessions.

My final advice is to be a good shopper and a good self-advocate.  Recognize that this is not an easy process and some of the very fears and personal issues that have stifled your well being to this point may rear their ugly heads with more intensity and impede your search for a therapist.  Sitting down with the right therapist, especially following an effortful search, is really a large chunk of your battle already mastered.  Trust yourself and trust your immediate support system.  Reach out to them and ask for help in your search.  Call local universities and ask in their counseling centers.  Call local therapists and ask for ten minutes of their time over the phone to introduce you to the world of therapy.  Do these things and do them again.  Don’t give up.  You can make it.

Find a Qualified Therapist Near You

I like these sites for many different reasons.  They cover different topics in the search for a therapist that, while appearing to overlap in content, contain some important distinctions.  For example, the WebMD site is a good introduction to a therapy search and surveys many facets of “what to look for” in a therapist and clinic as well as in the overall work of each.

The Psychology Today website provides a local search capacity enabling people to look for a variety of trained therapists in a specific area of their world.  Finally, the Good Therapy website gives detailed descriptions of some important distinctions (like the differences between psychiatry, clinical psychology, counseling, social work, family therapy, and psychotherapy) and definitions of commonly used clinical language.

I trust these sites and refer anyone who is invested in finding a therapist of best fit to these sites. This accompanied with the advice from above will aid in your search.

Additional Websites on Abuse


Sexual Abuse Survivors


Male Survivor

Dancing the Darkness

Darkness to Light

Silent No More

American Academy of Experts in Traumatic stress