Searching For A Therapist? A Quick Therapist Finder Guide

Medically reviewed by Julie Dodson, MA
Updated March 6, 2023by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Deciding to go to therapy is not always an easy decision, but it's one that can greatly impact your life for the better, which is why it can be important to know how to find a good therapist. Many people experience mental health challenges at some point in their lives, and choosing to find a therapist, counseling psychologist, or start online therapy can be one of the best decisions you can make. It can be possible to find a local mental health professional or connect with one online. It’s usually helpful to consider the professional’s education, experience, cost, and location.

Searching For A Therapist Doesn’t Have To Be Stressful.

When To See A Therapist

Mental health challenges may not look the same for each person. Even within the same diagnosis, each person can experience symptoms on different levels. This can mean there may be no way of knowing the “right time” to see a therapist. 

However, you can know it's a good time to reach out for help when you find that you are experiencing challenges with your mental health in your daily life. This could be that you are losing sleep because of anxiety, you have a hard time getting to work because of depression or substance use, or you are experiencing symptoms of a more serious and complex mental health disorder, such as hearing voices or seeing things that aren't there.

Your symptoms and experience don't have to reach a certain level for you to qualify to get help from a therapist. Many people think that their problems aren’t serious enough, so they continue to deal with them on their own instead of seeking help. Please know that if you are struggling with your mental health, then it is likely time to find a therapist and get the help that you need. Mental health challenges are often very treatable, and some people may see results in only a few sessions.

Therapist Requirements


The requirements that you may look for in a therapist or mental health professional often depend on the type of therapy you’re seeking and the problems that you are working to address. For example, when you're looking at a therapist’s education in the detailed online listings, there can be many different options. For example, if you think that you're going to need medication to help deal with your mental health challenges, then you may want to see a psychiatrist. Psychiatrists are trained medical doctors that specialize in mental health. Because they have been through medical school, they can write prescriptions. However, please note that medication is not always necessary or recommended.

On the other hand, many people see a psychologist for their therapy sessions, even though psychologists are not able to write prescriptions. While a psychiatrist generally manages the medical side of mental health, such as the chemicals in your brain, a psychologist usually helps with the emotional side of mental health, including your thoughts.

Other mental health professionals, called therapists, are usually educated with a master’s degree and may have a degree in social work or counseling. They are normally educated and trained to practice and provide talk therapy or psychotherapy. In general, you might ensure that any mental health professional you’re considering has an applicable degree and is licensed to practice in their state.


The next requirement you may look for is the therapist’s experience or specialization. A newer therapist may work under the direction of a more experienced therapist, so just because someone is new does not necessarily mean that they will not be a good fit for you. You may also want a therapist that has experience working with people with similar concerns or mental health challenges.

Some therapists specialize in certain areas of mental health or specific diagnoses. If you are living with anxiety and depression, you might not want to work with a therapist that specializes in marriage counseling, and vice versa.


Another thing that many people will want to consider when choosing a mental health professional is how much the sessions are going to cost them. If you have health insurance, there's a chance that your insurance company may provide coverage for mental health sessions. However, if they do, there are potential requirements to qualify, and it most likely will only cover a certain number of sessions. But if you have health insurance, it's generally worth looking into to save money on your therapy sessions.

If your insurance does not cover mental health services, there may still be other ways that you can save money on therapy sessions. The first may be to look for mental health professionals in your location that offer a sliding scale for payment. This usually means that the therapist will adjust the charge for your appointment based on your income level. Sliding scales often make therapy sessions possible for some people who wouldn't be able to afford them otherwise.

Another option is to look into online therapy, which often comes with lower costs and sometimes offers financial aid.


When choosing a therapist, you may wish to consider their location as well. Some forms of therapy will have you going to appointments more than once a week. This means you will likely want to consider where the office is located and how easy or difficult it will be for you to get there.

For those people who do not want to have to attend therapy sessions in person, there are options for meeting with therapists online. This can also be convenient if you cannot find a suitable therapist in your local area, or if you don’t have a reliable method of transportation to get to therapy sessions.

How An Online Therapist Can Help

Research shows that online therapy can be an effective method of treating different symptoms related to mental health. In one broad-based report, researchers examined the overall efficacy of online therapy interventions. They aggregated the results of over 90 studies, including almost 10,000 total participants, covering everything from panic disorders to smoking cessation. The study concluded that online therapy can be as effective as traditional in-person treatment, and that online cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is often an especially useful modality. Online platforms can eliminate many common barriers to treatment, including high costs, geographical and time constraints, and perceived stigma.

With online therapy, you can connect with a licensed therapist from the comfort of your own home. You may quickly make or modify your appointments so that you’re creating a schedule that works for you. An online therapist can provide you with valuable guidance on the path to better mental health, and it is generally much easier to switch therapists as needed to find one you connect with.


Therapy can make a notable difference in your mental health and life in general, so it can be crucial to know how to find a therapist who will meet your needs and help you achieve your goals. Looking at a therapist’s education, experience, cost, and location can help you determine whether they will be a good fit for you. You might find a suitable therapist or other mental health professional in your local area or online.

For Additional Help & Support With Your Concerns

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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