How To Find The Right Therapist Online

Medically reviewed by Nikki Ciletti, M.Ed, LPC
Updated September 18, 2023by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Finding a therapist can be beneficial for your mental health, but finding a good therapist is an important part of the journey. You may be wondering what are the signs of a good therapist, and the answer can be determined by several factors.

To find the right therapist, consider your cultural background and specific concerns. Look for licensed therapists with specialized training and experience in your particular issue. Consider seeking out community mental health clinics or social workers who can refer you to other professionals. It’s important to have a good fit and build a patient provider therapeutic alliance. Check if your health insurance plan covers mental health conditions and if your therapist is located within your insurance provider's network. You may also prefer working with a therapist with similar morals, values, and experiences such as an LGBTQ+ therapist or a therapist of color. 

Finding A Good Therapist Is Possible

First Step: Verify Their License

After searching for a therapist using a therapist finder tool, the first thing to determine when you're trying to find a therapist is if they have a license.  A good therapist has a valid license that can be easily verified. You must know how to check if a therapist is licensed (you can search for public records to do that). Depending on the state that the therapist is registered to practice in, you can look to see if their license is valid with their particular board. Search based on their credentials (i.e., LMFT, LPC, LCSW, etc.).

Remember that therapists must hold state licenses, as opposed to other professions such as "life coaches" who aren't therapists. Life coaches can be beneficial to people who are going through transitions. However, they probably don't have a license to practice therapy.

When you meet with a potential therapist, you will probably see their license and degrees displayed in a prominent place in their office. If you're meeting with an online therapist at BetterHelp, it's much easier to know if they're licensed. BetterHelp checks the certifications and licenses of all therapists listed.

What Is The Difference Between A Degree And A License?

A critical difference between a degree and a license is that schools give degrees, but professional governing bodies control licenses within their state. The most important distinction, however, is that degrees don't expire but licenses can. Psychology is changing all the time. A person who received their degree 40 years ago could seem outdated, but if they've been keeping their license up to date, they may be qualified to treat patients.

Many therapists have doctorates, some have master’s degrees, and others have mental health licenses such as an LPC (licensed professional counselor). These are all valid levels of education for a therapist to have, but in addition to their training, they need to hold a valid, up-to-date license.

Do Your Research

You can look for universities and licensing agencies with your search engine, but you can also do the same with the name of a prospective therapist. It can be a great way to find out information like whether they have written for or contributed to publications or belong to any other therapeutic organizations. Many therapists list their work histories on a personal website or professional sites like LinkedIn.

Consider Getting A Referral From Your Doctor

Many people who see therapists are referred by their primary care provider. Your primary care provider can be a great place to start if you're looking for a therapist. They may know someone they can refer you to, and who other patients have had success with. It may also be helpful to ask family, friends, and acquaintances for recommendations. Your best friend or close relative may have a great therapist they can recommend.

If you're unable to find a suitable therapist through these methods, try searching the psychology department of your local college or university. These tend to have well-trained therapists who can provide help for a wide variety of issues. You can also check with your health insurance company to see if they have a therapist located in their network that might be the right match for you.

Consider Online Therapy

Many people live in remote locations where there may not be local therapists or psychologists. People in rural areas may have trouble finding therapists who are within a reasonable traveling distance. New technologies are making it easier for people to talk to their therapists via internet-based counseling. Group therapy, which is a type of psychotherapy where a group of people come together to discuss their issues with one therapist leading the session, is also becoming more common as an option.

There are many perks to online therapy. It’s an affordable option in comparison to in-person appointments because clients are not required to travel for an appointment. 

For Asian American or Black women and Latinx in particular, finding a good therapist can be difficult. It's a personal matter, and it's important to feel comfortable with your therapist. It's not always easy to connect with someone in a matter of minutes, so it's important to look for certain qualities when searching for the right fit.

When you meet with an online therapist, it may be helpful to keep your regular primary care provider up to date on who you're seeing and what you're doing to manage your mental health.

Give Therapy A Chance

An important aspect of therapy is sticking with it. It can be painful to relive trauma, talk about emotions, and converse with a stranger about personal experiences. However, it can be essential for your mental health to receive support and guidance from a qualified professional. Sometimes, the road may be rough before it can be smooth but having the support of a patient, non-judgmental therapist, can be the avenue that strengthens your mental health.

Once you have found a therapist who meets your criteria, the next step is to consider how you will work together. Patient activation, or engaging in treatment activities such as setting goals or tracking progress, is key to getting the most out of therapy. Being an active participant in your care can help you and your new therapist better understand each other and work together on personal matters.

Many people may come up with excuses to avoid therapy or to quit therapy once they have started. But these can be viewed as defense mechanisms that people use to avoid implementing changes in their lives or possibly avoid acknowledging that they may need help.

The Benefits Of BetterHelp

BetterHelp makes it easy for you to find an online therapist by reading the reviews of our providers. We have over 2,000 therapists with degrees and licenses to practice. 

Additionally, you don't have to have a mental health diagnosis in order to reap the benefits of online therapy. It is certainly appropriate to reach out to an online counselor for advice or support if you are navigating a breakup, going through a transition in your career, or struggling to accept parts of your identity, for example. Online therapy has shown efficacy in helping many people overcome the symptoms of mental illness. A 2019 research study found that those who participated in three months of consistent BetterHelp online counseling experienced clinically significant improvements in symptoms of depression. Moreover, those in the control group who engaged in traditional in-person psychotherapy showed less clinically significant symptomatic improvement compared to their counterparts in the experimental group.

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Finding A Good Therapist Is Possible

Counselor Reviews

Here are some reviews by recent BetterHelp users about their counselors:

“Christie has been nothing short of amazing. I am new to therapy and she has made me incredibly comfortable. Easy to talk to, always available, and gives the right balance of letting you speak while providing probing questions and providing advice. Could not be happier with the experience.” 

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“I met with Debra to find a way to resolve a family conflict. I was new to counseling and was hesitant to reach out for help. Debra was a compassionate listener who immediately made me feel comfortable. She helped me gain insight and self-knowledge to incorporate new tools and behaviors that I could use to set boundaries and establish healthy communication with my family. I have found new confidence in setting boundaries in other areas of my life as well.” 

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Knowing how to find a good therapist online can seem difficult, but there are a few things you can do to help make the process easier. With online therapy, you can search for a therapist who aligns with your needs and expectations. You also should make sure they have the appropriate credentials and experience. Additionally, you can look for reviews or recommendations from other users. Lastly, take your time with the process and don’t rush into a decision until you feel confident in your choice. Once you find an online therapist who is right for you, you can use this resource to gain a better understanding of yourself and your mental health.

Explore mental health and healing with a therapist

The information on this page is not intended to be a substitution for diagnosis, treatment, or informed professional advice. You should not take any action or avoid taking any action without consulting with a qualified mental health professional. For more information, please read our terms of use.
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