How to Choose Therapist

Psychotherapists, counselors, psychiatrists, psychologists. What’s the diff?  They’re all shrinks, aren’t they?  Who’s the best?  Man or woman?  Fresh out of college?  More experienced?  And who treats my problem?

Good questions.  This website provides the answers.

First of all, it is important to find a licensed provider since it assures you that person has satisfied all the college coursework, post-grad supervision hours, and Colorado Board competency requirements.  All of the mental health professionals identified here are licensed by the state of Colorado; unlicensed therapists are not included1.   

In selecting a therapist, here are some good tips:

1. You’ll want to see a couple of letters behind the name, because they tell you something about the person’s professional training, certification, or licensing. But the number of letters is less important than knowing what they mean. 

2. There is a great deal of common ground among therapists.  The vast majority treat mood problems, relationship issues, life crises, and more.  However, each has somewhat different training, professional interests, and experience, and this site identifies their speciality areas.  This will help you find the therapists suited to your needs.

3. If you have questions, ASK!  Don’t be bashful.  It’s your life, your time, and your money, so ask questions important to you. You can inquire by telephone or by e-mail, anonymously if you desire.  Here are some good questions to ask:

  • How long have you been practicing your profession?
  • What percentage of your practice deals with ____?
  • What are your usual approaches for my problem?
  • What would you estimate to be the length of treatment? (that’s a tricky question, but just ask and see what they say).
  • What are your fees?

Remember, once you begin talking with someone about your personal concerns, it’s awkward to discontinue and start with someone new (best to get it right the first time).  Most psychotherapists will be happy to meet with you briefly at no charge, to give you a feel for one another. If it’s not a fit, thank him/her and move on, no harm done. 

4. One last thing. Avoid putting too much on your neighbor’s or friend-of-a-friend’s recommendation.  Just because your sister-in-law counseled with Mrs. Wright after her divorce doesn’t mean Mrs. Wright is right for your depression or for helping you deal with a troubled adolescent.  Personal recommendations can be valuable, because good therapists get good street reviews, but make your own choice based on thoughtful selection.

Best wishes in your quest for the ‘just right’ therapist for you.

1   Note that some Mental Health Center professional staff (MindSpring) are licensed, but the agency is not participating in this Internet resource.  Also understand that “psychotherapist” is an unregulated term and legal to use in Colorado even without a degree.  We are all psychotherapists, but only licensed mental health professionals are included here. 




Degree Letters
Therapists Specialties