How To Find The Right Therapist Online

Medically reviewed by Nikki Ciletti, M.Ed, LPC
Updated March 27, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team
Content warning: Please be advised, the below article might mention trauma-related topics that could be triggering to the reader. Please see our Get Help Now page for more immediate resources.

A therapist is a type of mental healthcare professional who can offer various forms of talk therapy for addressing various types of mental health conditions and challenges. Meeting with a therapist can be beneficial for your mental health, but finding one who is trained, licensed, and a good match for you can seem difficult, particularly when you’re looking for a therapist located near you. Read on for tips about how to find the right therapist for you so that you can receive the treatment or support you may need.

Finding a good therapist is possible

Common reasons people might seek counseling

There are all sorts of reasons a person might decide they’d like to find a therapist to meet with. Of course, those who are experiencing symptoms of a mental health condition like anxiety, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, bipolar disorder, or many others may do so to get support for their symptoms. Many therapists specialize in helping individuals with a particular diagnosis.

However, plenty of people who aren’t showing signs of a mental health condition may also decide to enlist the support of this type of professional over the short or long term. They can help with challenges including but certainly not limited to:

  • Navigating grief
  • Addressing low self-esteem
  • Handling relationship challenges
  • Coping with stress
  • Moving through a significant life change (pregnancy, marriage, divorce, job loss, a career change, a move, etc.)
  • Healing from past trauma

Whatever mental health concerns you may be facing, a therapist can provide you with a nonjudgmental, welcoming space in which you can express and process your emotions, learn healthy coping techniques, and feel supported. While it can take time to find the right match, individuals often feel that the end result is worth it.

Best practices when beginning your search

Figuring out how to find the right therapist for you is typically key to receiving the most effective care, whether you're looking for cognitive behavioral therapy or another type of therapeutic treatment, like group therapy. When considering who might be the right therapist or mental health professional for you, you might consider the following tips.

Start by identifying your preferences

If you decide to meet with a therapist, you’ll likely be speaking with them about some vulnerable details related to your thoughts and feelings. That’s why it can be helpful to think about what kind of person you might feel most comfortable speaking with. Mental health professionals, just like all other people, can have different attributes and backgrounds that may affect your comfort levels, and it can be crucial to feel comfortable when seeking a potential therapist. The patient-provider therapeutic alliance can be crucial to success in therapy.

For example, some people prefer someone who has the same gender identity as them, or someone who is the same age or older. BIPOC individuals may prefer a BIPOC therapist, and the same may go for those who identify as LGBTQIA+ or who belong to a particular religion. Additionally, you may want someone who has experience in addressing a particular challenge or condition, such as anxiety, divorce, or trauma. 

There are also many types of mental health providers who may use slightly different strategies for the therapy process, such as general licensed therapists and marriage and family therapists, who, as their title suggests, typically provide marriage and family therapy. A licensed clinical social worker, licensed professional counselor, and therapist specializing in dialectical behavioral therapy generally use differing tactics during a therapy session. Meanwhile, psychiatrists are the only mental health professionals who can prescribe medication, and they are technically medical doctors. Making a list of your preferences can help guide your search.

Decide between online or in-person mental health care

In recent years, online therapy has emerged as an effective potential alternative to in-person sessions in many cases. It can represent a more convenient choice for people who have trouble leaving the house, finding a provider in their area, finding the time to commute to appointments, or who simply prefer to engage in therapy from the comfort of home. Often, finding a therapist who has specialized training in specific mental health issues can be easier on an online platform, where there are usually many more professionals to choose from.

That said, other people prefer to form a connection with a therapist face to face and might decide they’d rather attend in-person sessions. Figuring out whether online therapy or in-person therapy is more comfortable and convenient for you can be a key part of the process.


Check your insurance coverage

If you have insurance, check if it covers mental health services like therapy. If so, you may want to contact your insurance company for a list of in-network providers in your area, which can help you narrow down the search as well. If not, you can ask your primary care physician for a referral or ask people in your social network if they have referrals for a provider or an office where they had a good experience. This may help you identify a promising practice or prospective therapist in your area.

You can also conduct an online search for providers near you or use a therapist-finder tool. You’ll also need to find out if the provider you’re interested in is currently accepting new clients. If you choose to pursue online therapy, you’ll typically be presented with a questionnaire to fill out about your needs and preferences and will be matched with a provider accordingly.

Please note that some online therapy platforms do not accept health insurance, but some may offer need-based assistance. If this type of therapy exceeds your budget, it may be helpful to check out community mental health clinics and local group therapy sessions, which may be available at a lower cost. In addition, many therapists utilize a sliding scale fee structure, meaning that those whose income is lower may qualify for reduced pricing.

Verify therapists' licenses

Unlike life coaches or similar professionals, therapists, family therapists, and other clinical mental health care providers are required to be licensed by their particular state. This license signifies that they've undergone the necessary education and training in order to practice in their area of specialty. Most therapists who practice in other locations will be happy to verify their education and licensure.

Depending on the state that the therapist is registered to practice in, you can look to make sure their license is valid with their particular board.

If you choose to meet with a therapist online instead through a platform like BetterHelp, you don’t have to worry about this step. BetterHelp, ReGain, and TeenCounseling all verify a provider’s licensing and credentials before they’ll be listed as available providers on the site.

See if it’s a match

Once you’ve done your research and have found a promising provider, it’s usually recommended that you attend a few sessions with them before deciding if it’s a good fit. According to the American Psychological Association, having a good relationship with your therapist can result in better therapy outcomes. Remember that if they behave inappropriately, are judgmental, or otherwise make you feel unsafe or unheard that you should find a new therapist. There will likely always be other therapists available, whether in person or online.

Don’t be afraid to switch providers if one isn’t working for you for any reason; it’s not unusual to try a few therapists before finding the one who feels like the right fit. However, try not to be too hasty, either. Undergoing therapy can be a challenging process, especially if you have past trauma or other deep-rooted challenges to address. At times, it’s likely to feel uncomfortable and may bring out a variety of difficult emotions. That’s why it can be helpful to try to decide whether the discomfort you’re feeling is a result of a provider who isn’t a good match or is simply part of the process.

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Finding a good therapist is possible

Consider online counseling

If you’re interested in exploring online therapy, you might consider a platform like BetterHelp. To get started, you’ll fill out a questionnaire about your needs and preferences and will then be matched with a licensed therapist accordingly. From there, you can meet with them via phone, video call, and/or in-app messaging to address the challenges you may be facing.

You can attend these sessions from home or anywhere else you may feel comfortable and have a stable internet connection. Medically reviewed and evidence-based research suggests that online therapy can be as effective as in-person sessions in many cases, so this format may be worth considering if it appeals to you. See below for some client reviews of BetterHelp counselors.

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.” 

“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.” 


There are many reasons you might want to seek the support of a therapist, whether you’re interested in cognitive behavioral therapy or another type. Considering your preferences, deciding on online versus in-person support, and verifying their licensing can all be important parts of the process of finding a good therapist. Once you find an online therapist or an in-person provider who feels right for you, you can use this resource to gain a better understanding of yourself and your mental health.

Explore mental health and healing in therapy
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