8 Tips On How To Find A Therapist For Anxiety

Medically reviewed by Arianna Williams, LPC, CCTP
Updated September 5, 2023by BetterHelp Editorial Team

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), over 40 million US adults are diagnosed with an anxiety disorder.

In addition, many individuals may experience anxiety throughout daily life. If you experience an anxiety disorder or suspect you might have one, talking to an anxiety therapist can help you learn techniques to reduce the impact of your symptoms and manage stress. Many anxiety disorders are treatable, and others can be manageable with support. 

Find The Right Therapist For Your Anxiety

Eight Tips For Finding An Anxiety Specialist

To make sure that your specific need is addressed, you must know how to find the right counseling services. Consider the following eight tips when looking for a therapist specializing in anxiety and anxiety disorders.

1. Do Your Research

Not all therapists offer the same services or experience, regardless of licensing or clinical hours. Two therapists might specialize in anxiety, but one could offer cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) while the other only offers exposure therapy. Therefore, researching therapy modalities, specialties, and techniques before finding a therapist can be beneficial. 

Many people may believe therapy involves lying on a couch and freely discussing your emotions or thoughts with your therapist. However, this technique is only one of over 400. Some forms of therapy involve talking one-on-one with a mental health professional. However, you may be able to find other forms if you're not interested in traditional talk therapy. In addition, there are various forms of talk therapy. 

2. Check Each Therapist's Credentials 

When looking for a therapist, ensure you understand the therapist's credentials. Each therapist has a license, and each licensing designation may come with different responsibilities or abilities. These letters indicate what type of degree or training the therapist has had, including the following: 

  • MD: MD stands for a medical doctor. In the psychology field, the only professionals with an MD are psychiatrists. These professionals have attended medical school and can write prescriptions, diagnose mental illness, and provide medical testing. They often collaborate with psychologists.
  • Ph.D. and PsyD: Individuals with these letters have received a doctorate in psychology. Those with this degree designation can work as a therapist, researcher, professor, or another distinguished professional in the psychology industry. 
  • MA, MS, LGPC, LCPC: These acronyms show that a person has received a master's degree. They have a state license if they have an "L" in their credentials. They may have other credentials if they have completed specialized training in a particular study area.
  • MSW, LCSW, LCSW-C, LGSW, LSW: These acronyms stand for the various degrees or licenses that those with a degree in social work have. Only those with a licensed clinical social work title can offer counseling.
  • MA, MFT, LFMT, LCMFT: These acronyms represent various types of marriage and family therapists. Those with an L are licensed, while those without an L have a master's degree in marriage and family therapy.
  • MA, CCPT, CpastC, NCPC, NCCA: You may see these acronyms for pastoral counselors or those with a master's in pastoral counseling. Often, these providers work in a church and offer religion-based therapy. If you meet with a pastoral counselor, ensure they have a state license to practice therapy. 
  • MHC, LMHC: These acronyms represent those with a master's degree in mental health counseling. Those with an L are licensed, while those with an MHC work toward licensure under a limited permit. Mental health counselors and social workers receive similar training in their master's programs. 

3. Ask About Their Experience

Being licensed and trained in an area may not correlate with experience. If a therapist has years of experience in treating anxiety, they may know what has worked in the past and how to support a wide range of clients. They may have perfected their skills and developed their strategies over time. 

Check a counselor's public reviews if there are any online. You can also check their listings on psychology boards. Although many individuals are looking for experienced counselors, you might also give a chance to a new counselor who has recently graduated from graduate school. These providers often have supervised experience and may be educated in more modern forms of treatment. 


4. Check Your Insurance Coverage

Over time, more insurance companies are offering coverage for therapy. If you have an insurance plan, contact them to see if you are limited to a particular list of therapists. If so, reach out to a provider on that list. If you can't choose, your insurance provider may refer you to a provider. If you have an anxiety disorder diagnosis, you may be referred to a provider specializing in anxiety. 

5. Check Your Pricing Options

If you don't have coverage through your insurance company, you may save money by finding a therapist for anxiety that offers a sliding scale system. Sliding scales allow you to receive a discounted price on counseling based on your income level.

6. Consider Alternative Meeting Options 

Some mental health professionals might only meet with patients in person. However, many therapists offer video, phone, or live chat therapy. If you are living with high anxiety levels, you may be more comfortable with an online option or chat therapy. Compare the pricing, availability, and reviews of online vs. in-person therapists to make a decision. 

7. Ask Questions

To find out if a counselor is right for you, write a list of questions for therapists. Many therapists may offer a quick consultation to answer any doubts you have. A few questions you might ask include: 

  • Do you work with anxiety?
  • What is your experience treating my symptoms? 
  • What therapy modalities do you practice?
  • What do you believe is the most effective form of treatment for anxiety? 
  • Do you offer worksheets or homework? 
  • Do you prefer clients to lead sessions? 

You can ask any question that helps you decide on a provider. The more comfortable you are with the therapist, the more effective your sessions might be. 

8. Ask For Recommendations

If you know others that have worked with a therapist for anxiety, you can ask for recommendations from them. You can also ask for a referral from your primary care provider. Knowing someone else has had a positive experience can be valuable. However, you might not be able to see a therapist if they are actively the therapist of a close family or partner due to ethical rules.

What To Do If Your Therapist Is Not The Proper Fit 

If you choose a therapist, start sessions, and realize that you don't want to see the therapist anymore, you can change providers. Just because you start the process with one therapist doesn't necessarily mean you must stick with them. If you are uncomfortable in any way, it could be beneficial to find a new therapist instead of forcing yourself to push through sessions that make you feel unwell. 

Types Of Therapy For Anxiety

Below are a few common types of therapy utilized for anxiety disorders and other mental health concerns. Understanding each type can help you make an informed decision on the therapy modality you'd like to use with your therapist. 

EMDR Therapy For Anxiety

EMDR stands for eye movement desensitization and reprocessing. During sessions, therapists use hand tapping for anxiety, eye movement, and audio stimulation to help clients unblock and process memories that may be painful or challenging to confront. It is often used to help those with anxiety disorders confront distress and understand how past experiences might have contributed to symptoms. 

EMDR was initially developed to treat post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) from trauma, but it can now be used with a wide range of mental illnesses. Ask your EMDR therapist how you might benefit from this modality. 

Social Anxiety Group Therapy

If you experience with social anxiety disorder, mental health professionals provide many forms of therapy to treat symptoms. One option is group therapy. Group sessions are often cheaper than meeting one-on-one with a therapist. They can also be helpful because they allow you to meet with others who understand your symptoms. The group can learn together and practice new skills to overcome anxiety. Look for a support group led by a licensed therapist. 

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) 

Cognitive-behavioral therapy, or CBT, is a standard therapy for anxiety and other mental health conditions. It teaches clients to identify their unwanted or unhelpful thought patterns and their impact on their behaviors and moods. Clients can learn to identify, challenge, and change these thought patterns through specific worksheets, techniques, and roleplaying. Studies have found that CBT is often effective for treating anxiety. 

Biofeedback Therapy

Biofeedback therapy shows clients how their stress and anxiety impact their physical bodies. During sessions, the client may be hooked up to sensors showing their heart rate, breathing rate, and brain activity. This process allows them to visualize what their stress and anxiety look like in their body. As they use techniques to lower their stress and relax, they can see what strategies work for reducing anxiety. 

Find The Right Therapist For Your Anxiety

Counseling Options 

There are many options available for addressing the symptoms of an anxiety disorder. However, if you're struggling to find a provider in your area due to cost, reachability, or transportation, many anxiety therapists provide support online. 

Online therapy can allow those with anxiety to receive support from a location that makes them feel safe, whether at home or another location with an internet connection. In addition, clients can choose to attend therapy over live chat if they initially feel uncomfortable with a video or phone call format. Studies have shown that online therapy is also highly effective for those diagnosed with conditions like depression and anxiety. One study found that internet mindfulness-based CBT effectively reduced psychological distress and increased emotional control skills in those with anxiety.

If you want to speak to a therapist specializing in anxiety online, consider signing up with a platform like BetterHelp. This platform offers a match-based system so clients can find support personalized to their specific treatment goals, symptoms, and preferences. You can note if you'd like to meet with an LGBTQ, BIPOC, religious, or same-sex therapist. 


If you're living with anxiety, know that you're not alone. Over 41.7 million adults in the US saw a therapist in 2021, and the number is growing. Therapy can be an effective tool for reducing distress and feeling a sense of control and self-reliance. If you're interested in getting started, consider contacting a provider for further guidance and to set up an appointment.

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