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Finding a Good Fit: Navigating Online Therapy Services and Selecting the Ideal Online Therapist

Choosing the right online therapist can be challenging and sometimes confusing, considering the many therapists and modalities available. But therapy is about you being comfortable enough to open up to the person in front of you during your therapy session.

In this blog, I aim to help you pick the right therapist, in a way that’s best for what you need. It serves as a navigational tool to find a professional whose methods and philosophy align with the outcomes you desire and who provides therapy that’s right for you.

Starting therapy is a substantial commitment, not a quick solution. While it may be initiated by distressing circumstances, the journey of therapy isn’t necessarily about correcting something that’s wrong, but about finding a licensed therapist who can guide you through the process.

Think of therapy as your space to grow and find your stride – basically, to be you, but even better, with more meaning and direction in your life. If you’re looking for a therapist but don’t know where to begin or how to search for one, look no further, you’ve come to the right place. Keep reading to find out some quick tips in choosing a right fit.
Nine Tips for Choosing a Therapist
As a psychotherapist, I decided to help you with this search by listing the important factors that can make a big difference in choosing the right online therapist.

1. Think About Your Reasons for Therapy and Clarify Your Goals

Choose a therapy provider with expertise relevant to your needs (whether it is relationship issues, addiction, depression, trauma, anxiety, or something else), and one who resonates with your identity and experiences. Research suggests that therapy is more effective when the therapist’s approach aligns with your preferences, whether that’s exploring emotions or trying to make immediate changes.

Also, think about how do you normally tackle problems: do you reflect before you act, or prefer to jump straight into practical solutions? This will guide you towards a therapist whose methodology complements your problem-solving style.

Therapists do assist in defining your goals. However, having a clear idea about your issues and desired changes can expedite the process of choosing the right online therapist for your needs.

Your preferences in terms of specialties and communication styles are key to making the right choice. So start by considering what you hope to gain from therapy.

2. Know the Different Types of Therapy Approaches

Exploring the various types of therapeutic approaches can be a crucial step in your mental health journey, as each offers unique methods and benefits tailored to individual needs. Therapy may involve different theories and techniques, depending on the type of therapist and the approach they utilize.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) – focuses on identifying and changing negative thought patterns and behaviors.

Psychodynamic Therapy – delves into past experiences and unconscious processes influencing current behaviors.

Interpersonal Therapy – concentrates on improving interpersonal relationships and communication skills.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) – focuses on teaching skills to manage emotions, improve relationships, and live mindfully.

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) – encourages acceptance of emotions and commitment to personal values to guide actions.

Internal Family Systems (IFS) – uses a family-based approach to healing, viewing the mind as made up of multiple sub-personalities.

Solution-Focused Therapy (SFT) – concentrates on finding solutions in the present time and exploring hope for the future rather than focusing on the past or the problem.

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) – aims to reduce the distress associated with traumatic memories through structured eye movement.

Mindfulness-Based Therapies – utilize mindfulness practices to develop an awareness of the present moment and reduce symptoms.

3. Check the Therapist Qualifications and Affiliations

When choosing a therapist, their qualifications, and professional associations matter, but so does their attitude. Your confidence in the success of therapy – whether it’s traditional in-person therapy or online sessions – is crucial, so finding a therapist you believe can help is key. It’s about feeling assured and comfortable with their expertise and their approach.

When picking a licensed therapist, look beyond just qualifications. Studies suggest that outcomes are more influenced by a therapist’s commitment to honing their skills and reviewing their work with clients rather than how many years they have been in practice.

Seek a professional who is credentialed and dedicated to self-improvement, rather than only relying on their education and years of experience. Many therapists will outline their methods and standards on their website, giving you an idea into whether they are the kind of therapy provider who is continuously striving for excellence.

In a nutshell, a therapist’s willingness to improve and develop is often more valuable than their qualifications alone.

4. Don’t Forget Your Personal Preferences

Don’t forget to consider your personal preferences like expertise relevant to concerns (e.g. addiction, depression, etc.), and potential barriers such as gender, race, and financial constraints when exploring the therapy available.

Choosing someone who understands your cultural background and lived experiences is also beneficial, as this enhances the therapy’s effectiveness that therapy provides. With virtual therapy, you have the convenience to connect with a therapist at any time, making it a versatile option among online therapy options.

Most therapists also have websites where you can learn about their therapy approach and professional ethics to help you gauge if they’re the right fit for your needs. With online therapy sessions, you have the ability to engage with therapy in a way that is more conducive to your lifestyle.

The best therapists are ‘authentic chameleons’ – they adapt to how you communicate and help weave a relationship as therapy goes on. They’re open to feedback and eager to tailor the experience to you.

Different therapy approaches mean therapists might act differently, but they should always be working with you in a way that feels right to you. When starting, share your hopes and worries openly.
Your therapist is there to guide you to your own solutions – not give them to you – the more they get you, the better they can help.

5. Costs And Insurance Coverage

Cost is a factor to consider while choosing a therapist, especially if you are on a budget. If this is the case, look for therapists offering sliding scale fees based on income, which can be a part of affordable online therapy options.

There are also clinics and community resources offering affordable (low-cost) or free therapy services, making finding the right therapist more accessible. Your family doctor or health insurance provider can provide referrals or resources for affordable online therapy and options for online therapy services.

Always check with your insurance to see if therapy is covered for you so you can prevent unexpected bills. More insurers are now covering teletherapy, but it’s crucial to confirm that the therapist you’re interested in is recognized by your insurance plan.

6. Therapist Directories Are a Valuable Resource

Therapist directories are incredibly useful when searching for online therapy. They allow you to narrow down options by filtering for therapists who specialize in particular areas (e.g., anxiety, depression, couples counselling, etc.).

You can also search based on language preferences, therapeutic techniques, and even by therapists who are local to you, which can be important if you’re looking for someone who may understand specific cultural contexts.

This tailored approach helps in creating a shortlist of therapists who are more likely to meet your unique requirements and preferences.

7. Online Therapy Platforms

Various online therapy platforms offer services and experiences to choose from. Some might provide video sessions, while others might use chat or email. Evaluate the communication style that works best for you and choose a platform that aligns with your preferences.

Also, check the user-friendliness and privacy policies of these platforms to ensure a comfortable and secure therapy experience.

8. Make Use of Initial Consultations

Many online therapists offer initial free consultations to gauge your comfort level with the therapist’s style and approach. Use them to ask questions, discuss your goals, and assess how comfortable you feel with them.

These initial sessions are a prime opportunity to get a feel for the therapist’s methods and see if they click with your personality and needs. It’s a time to ask specific questions about their experience with issues similar to yours, discuss what you aim to achieve, and clarify any doubts or concerns you might have.

Choose someone you are comfortable opening up with, and who reacts positively to challenging feedback. Consequently, as trust develops over time, I also advise you to give the relationship a chance to grow before making your final decision.

9. Assess Compatibility

It’s also important that you feel comfortable with your therapist. The therapeutic relationship is based on trust and openness, so pay attention to how you feel during your initial sessions.

When assessing compatibility with your therapist, it’s also about the sense of being understood and respected. good therapists often mirror your communication style and show empathy, creating a comfortable space for difficult conversations.

Notice if you’re being heard and if the therapist’s responses resonate with you. This initial rapport can significantly impact your therapy’s effectiveness, so it’s important to feel that your therapist can navigate the complexities of your experiences with sensitivity. If you consistently leave sessions feeling heard and valued, it likely indicates a good therapeutic match.
Key Takeaways
Finding the right fit therapist can be a journey filled with introspection and learning. It’s a personal choice that significantly impacts your therapy’s effectiveness. Remember, the goal is to find someone with whom you can build a strong therapeutic relationship, someone who understands your goals, and is ready to help you navigate your concerns in ways that work uniquely for you.

By taking the time to research and understand your needs, you’re already taking a significant step towards improving your well-being.
Delia Petrescu

Delia Petrescu

Founder & Director
BA, MA, Registered Psychotherapist (RP)

Delia Petrescu, MA, RP is a Toronto-based psychotherapist, psychometrist, and the founder of Get Reconnected Psychotherapy and Counselling Services. She provides virtual therapy sessions Ontario-wide. Delia has experience working with adults struggling with adjustment difficulties, depression, anxiety, and trauma. She specializes in integrative and holistic care for those coping with life crises such as fertility concerns. Read more about Delia

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