Signs Of A Great Therapist

Medically reviewed by Laura Angers Maddox, NCC, LPC
Updated May 31, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Perhaps you've started working with a licensed therapist or counselor but aren't sure what constitutes a "good" mental health professional. It can be challenging to determine exactly what makes a therapist effective, but there are certain features and key qualities to look for. Below are a few signs you can consider as you look for a qualified therapist, and you might also explore resources and links on the BetterHelp website for additional guidance.

Find a therapist who meets your needs and preferences.

What to look for in a therapist

Below are several signs of an effective therapist.

Licensure and credentials

First, a good therapist should have the proper licensing and credentials required to practice. In the world of mental health services, in addition to having a degree, a licensed therapist will likely have gone through internships and practice therapy time. Be aware that you should be wary of a therapist who isn't willing to provide information on their degree, credentials, or account for their experience. You can verify some licensed therapists using the American Psychological Association’s therapist search tool or similar tools from associations of counselors and social workers. You can also reach out to the state therapy board. 

Proper conduct

Aside from education, licensure, and credentials, your therapist should generally behave professionally. Good therapists may explain how the therapy process works, using psychology tools and speaking to you with respect and a genuine desire for your healing. A good therapist may not make any big promises, but they may instead explain how working with them might improve your situation or symptoms, whether it's to manage personal issues or tackling marriage related challenges. 

Effective and efficient communication

As you continue working with a good therapist, you may find that they effectively communicate with you and focus on your needs and objectives. They may also help you learn new skills to use on a day-to-day basis, ensuring you remain interested in the therapy process.

Also, you may find that a good therapist is completely focused on you rather than being preoccupied with distractions like Facebook during therapy sessions. After listening to you, your therapist may explain what they view as the best treatment process for you, backed by relevant details. Contrarily, a bad therapist may work on their own tasks while you speak, interrupt you, or invalidate your mental health conditions. 


Good therapists are usually not overly emotional. This doesn’t necessarily mean that a good therapist is always stoic or neutral. However, you may find that a good therapist generally maintains a certain level of control, even when tough or trying topics arise. 

If the client’s life or what they express makes a therapist emotional, this can be acceptable in some cases. However, clients do not need to feel that their therapist’s emotional feedback is a result of either negative judgments or attachment. A good therapist may take steps to ensure the therapy session doesn’t turn into the client comforting them. 

Provision of solutions

You may find that an effective therapist also sometimes offers potential solutions. It may take time for a therapist to get to know you, your situation, and the factors involved in your treatment. After a while, though, your therapist should typically be able to provide you with helpful feedback or suggest potential solutions or methods of working through your concerns, whether you’re living with a mental health condition like an anxiety disorder or a life challenge like relationship conflict. 

Your therapist may have you set certain goals and then see how you are doing in terms of achieving those goals within a certain period. Likewise, a good therapist will likely provide sound advice, healthy coping mechanisms, and other appropriate forms of treatment. They should generally utilize up-to-date information based on scientific research. The right treatment and solution can depend upon a multitude of factors, and it is typically up to the therapist to make the right call. 

If you feel as though certain solutions are not yielding the desired results, you can let your therapist know and advocate for yourself. Additional time in therapy may be required, or a different solution may be better suited for you. If you opt for additional time in therapy, be sure to communicate with your therapist about a plan for addressing the underlying issues causing you distress. Good therapists may work alongside you and try to understand your experience as it is. 

Progress over time

Although therapy often leads to improvement, the time in which improvement can be seen may vary from person to person. The nature of the situation which brought you to counseling, coupled with the proper solutions, the time it takes for your therapist to build rapport with you, and other factors, can impact when progress may be seen.

Some examples of improvements could include slight mindset shifts, an easier time managing your emotions, and more happiness in general. You may also experience fewer challenges with symptoms or difficult situations, although depending on your reason for attending therapy, the time for this can vary.

Improved relationships with others

When someone is working with a good therapist, they may gradually notice improvements in their relationships with other people. These improvements may involve feeling more comfortable with others or feeling that you’re getting better reception from people.

In certain cases, improving your relationships with other people could entail recognizing when a relationship is toxic and then removing yourself from it accordingly. 

Your therapist may help you move deliberately toward your relationship goals. They may also help you with social skills if you’d like to improve eye contact or facial expressions. The therapist’s responsibilities usually include providing compassionate emotional feedback and offering helpful, concise suggestions. 

Improved relationship with self

Feeling better about yourself overall can be another telltale sign of working with a good therapist. When concerns in your life are being resolved,and when you see improvement and growth, this can contribute to how you feel about yourself. 

Find a therapist who meets your needs and preferences.

The importance of trust and openness

Good therapy does not usually happen overnight. It usually takes work, time, and commitment from both you and your therapist. While a good therapist can significantly contribute to the quality of therapy sessions, you can contribute as well. 

Effective therapy sessions may involve offering trust and opening up to your therapist. This may seem challenging or slightly uncomfortable, particularly in the beginning, but it may help lead to a noticeable improvement. 

Find a good therapist with online therapy

If you are considering therapy but don’t like the idea of going to a therapist’s office, you might try online therapy, which research has shown to be just as effective as traditional in-office therapy for a variety of mental health challenges. With BetterHelp, you can be matched with a therapist who has been thoroughly vetted and knows that they have the necessary credentials and licensure. You may also be able to connect with a therapist who specializes in the particular types of concerns that have led you to seek therapy.

The above signs of a good therapist may serve as a starting point in your search for someone who is a good fit. Aside from considering an online therapist’s licensure, education, and credentials, you might look at the person’s reviews and read about the therapeutic modalities they tend to practice. Whether you're in the US, Canada, or elsewhere, take the first step to find a therapist that works for you by contacting companies like BetterHelp today.
Explore mental health and healing in therapy
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.
Get the support you need from one of our therapistsGet started