Signs You Found a Good Therapist

Written by Nicole Laoutaris
Last updated on: May 15, 2024

People start and continue with therapy for a variety of reasons. Often, the factors leading us to seek help often intersect. In other words, more than one aspect of our lives will be relevant to finding the right therapy and therapist that works for us.

One person may have a diagnosed anxiety disorder and then suddenly find themselves needing additional support through grief. Another might not yet know what they need but they just know something is off. Someone else may not be fully self-aware of their challenges yet, but they heard from a loved one that they need to try speaking to someone about an issue.

Whatever your entry point to therapy, finding the right therapist fit is one of the most important steps of the process. 

It’s important to understand that there are different therapist types (psychotherapist, social worker, counselling therapist, psychologist, etc.), they use different therapeutic techniques called modalities. Therapists will usually have a few areas specializations for certain mental health conditions, demographics and/or life challenges.

What does the right therapist feel like?

Finding the right therapist can feel similar to finding a new friend. While it’s important to remember that the therapist is not a literal friend, it can be an unspoken “click” when you meet them that tells you this is going to work.

Understandably, making an emotional decision based on your intuition can be a challenge. This can be especially difficult if you are coming to therapy because you don’t trust your intuition, or part of your mental health challenge is having confidence in your choices.

Here are a few signs to look out for in a good therapeutic relationship:

  • You feel heard: A therapist should be asking good questions that make you feel comfortable with them, but they should also demonstrate they are actively listening to your answers. They refer back to things you said before and they ensure they’re interpreting you the right way before offering their perspective on the situation.
  • You feel understood: Therapists often work with specific demographics for a reason. Belonging to the same community (religious, cultural, LGBTQ2IA+, BIPOC, etc.) can contribute to a deeper understanding of your challenges.
  • You don’t feel ashamed or judged: Did you feel safe after sharing something confidential? You should never feel like your therapist is trying to “fix” you (you’re not broken), it should feel like they’re your partner or ally. It’s a relationship built on trust.As Stefania Rossi puts it: “It’s a feeling that you have. You feel 100% comfortable. You know it’s a judgement-free zone, and you can feel safe in that setting. You just vibe with them. It was intuition.” 
  • You feel empowered / they challenge you in a productive way: Sometimes, your therapist will help you challenge how you’re approaching things or they’ll point out patterns that may not be servicing you. 
  • You can give each other feedback: Your therapist gives you validating emotional feedback—”I think you handled that situation better than you think you did and here’s why”—and they offer new techniques to try and follow up with you about them at your next session. This goes both ways—they should be open and welcoming to receiving any your feedback as well.

How long until you know it’s a fit?

It can take one session or several sessions before you know someone is right for you. Don’t fret, usually any session will still be helpful (it’s not wasted time) but you shouldn’t hesitate to change course if you feel you’re not getting what you need from a therapist. Your therapist will understand if you want to stop your sessions. Remember, therapists also value having a great relationship with their clients.

Part of building a trusting relationship is feeling like you can be vulnerable with someone. When that’s part of the goal, it’s normal to be sensitive to seemingly small things, like someone’s tone of voice, their mannerisms, word choice, pace of speaking, etc. We’re only human, we react to others in ways we can’t always explain—trust your gut.

Other Considerations

  • Your budget: Therapy costs can vary based on where you live, the kind of therapist you see, and their experience. 
  • Location: Many therapy sessions take place online now, but you still need to make sure your therapist can legally operate in your region. First Session lists where our therapists can practice on their profile pages.
  • Availability: Decide when and how often you’ll be seeing your therapist and make sure this fits into your schedule.

Find a therapist with First Session. You can compare hundreds of licensed therapists, counsellors, psychologists and psychotherapists; and filter by province, specialization, therapy type and more. Watch intro videos, and book online or in-person appointments. Remember, many initial consultations are free.

Ready to talk?

Use First Session to find the right therapist for you.

Meet Your New Therapist

The first time I had a therapist who identified with my background, I was like, whoa, this is wild. I feel like you understand me at a level like we can skip certain steps of explanation and go right to the root of the problem.

Hamza Khan, award-winning marketer, best-selling author, and global keynote speaker

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About the Author

Nicole Laoutaris

Nicole Laoutaris is a freelance writer and adult learning professional based in the Greater Toronto Area. She specializes in educational content for brands and companies in industries such as mental health, pet health, lifestyle and wellness, cannabis, and personal finance. Nicole holds a double undergraduate degree in Communications and Film studies from Wilfrid Laurier University, and post-graduate certificate in Corporate Communications from Seneca College. She currently lives in Hamilton Ontario with her spouse and her cat.