How Finding a Therapist Can Feel a Lot Like Dating
As a therapist, one common conversation I (Kim) have with my clients is around finding and keeping a date that is quality. Also as a therapist (Note: I use counselor and therapist interchangeably), I am often asked by people outside of and within my profession how to find a good therapist. Recently, it struck me that trying to find a quality date and a quality therapist have some similarities.
I know this might seem odd to compare the two, especially because, ethically, there are rules about therapists not having relationships with their clients – so hear me: I am not saying that you are trying to find a therapist that you would want to date. I am merely comparing how you find a date to how you might find a therapist.
Finding a Good Fit
I often encourage my clients before or while they are dating to consider some of their core values or qualities they are looking for in someone they date. For example, many of my clients will say that they are looking for someone who respects them and their choices.
I also encourage those asking about finding a counselor to consider what they are looking for in a therapist:
Do you want someone near the same age? Someone in the next season of life?
Are you looking for someone who identifies as the same gender as you?
Is faith important?
Are you looking for someone more or less directive?
What is your budget or availability for counseling?
A key thing to keep in mind: Not every person is going to be a good fit for you.
Where To Meet Them
One of the toughest things about finding a date is figuring out where and how you will meet potentials. A few ways to meet dates include asking your friends, trying to attend more social gatherings, using an app or online service, and joining a club.
I know from experience and being a clinician in the field that finding a quality therapist can also be hard to determine where to begin. Finding a quality therapist is done by using a lot of the same social resources: you could ask a friend or another professional, you could use Google, you could use a website that hosts a directory of lots of different therapists.
If you are using online directories, a few I suggest are
If you are using Google, I suggest looking up the type of counselor you are hoping to connect with. For example: “trauma therapist in atlanta,ga.”
In both realities, the first person you connect with may not have space on their caseload or times that work for you. In the dating world, the first person you connect with might not move forward with asking for the date or might present some red flags.
You Might Need To Meet More Than One
There are those magical stories that the first person someone goes on a date with turns out to be a dream; however, for most of us, that is not the case. You might go on a few dates or “dating seasons” where all you feel like you meet are not the ones you continue to want to meet. (I do often encourage and normalize that it is okay to take breaks from how much energy you put into meeting new potential partners.)
Much like dating, the first counselor you meet or call might not be the best fit for you. I recommend reaching out to a few therapists. You may talk to them on the phone and feel an instant connection; it may take meeting with them in person a few times to decide that you think they’ll be a good fit. You may meet with them in person and know at the end of the session that you aren’t interested in continuing; I would encourage you to share that with the counselor and see if they can help you find a better fit.
Here is a sample script for emailing a therapist:
Hi (insert therapist name),
My name is _____________, and I’m calling/emailing to see if you’re taking new clients. I’m hoping to work on (this is where you name a few things you wrote down on your list of what you’re wanting to work on) and would like to talk with you to see if we would be a good fit. You can reach me at (phone number). Talk to you soon.
Some Signs That They Are a Good Fit
In both scenarios, dating and finding a counselor, most of us leave the first time and wonder, “How do I know if they seem like a good fit or if I want to keep saying ‘yes.’” Here are a few things that I think are helpful to consider as some signs that they might be worth another “yes”:
They ask good questions; with a therapist and a date, hopefully they ask some questions that help explore and get to know you a little more deeply
They want to get to know you and make that clear
You don’t experience any major red flags
You feel a base level of comfort and safety
You feel inclined to give it another meeting
*Keep in mind that trust is going to take time; building a relationship that you feel like you can be yourself with will take time. If you get a sense you could trust them over time and you could see yourself really digging in and talking about the harder parts of your life, then they are likely a good fit.
It’s a journey to find a good therapist and a good partner. But I believe they are worth pursuing and both can be rewarding and life-changing.
Speaking as a therapist, I want you to know that we feel that connection with our clients too. I care for every single one of my clients, and I love the unique and special bond that I get to form with each of my clients. It’s such a profound gift to be trusted to hold space and invite folks into greater compassion and kindness for their story, their body, and their emotions.
And if you’re reading this, it probably means you’re looking for a therapist, so I’d be remiss to say if you’re in Georgia and looking for trauma-informed therapists who will help you on your journey of becoming your fullest, most authentic and compassionate self, reach out to us. One of our therapists at Steady Hope will be in touch usually within 1-2 business days. We offer in-person sessions at our Decatur office and also do virtual sessions for folks who live anywhere in Georgia. We’d love to help!