greater washington society
for clinical social work

Promoting the highest standards of clinical social work practice through education, advocacy, and community.

(202) 478-7638

Choosing a Therapist

Therapy is a collaborative enterprise between you and the therapist, which means that the freedom to discuss uncomfortable and conflicting feelings in an open and trusting atmosphere is vital. As a result, psychotherapy depends just as much upon the comfort and chemistry between therapist and client as it does on the therapist's knowledge and expertise.

Before calling to set up an appointment with a therapist, spend a little time thinking about any factors or qualities in a therapist that may be important to you. Some questions you might want to think about are:

  1. Do you have a preference for a female or a male therapist?
  2. Is the therapist's understanding of a particular culture, or a particular life stage (i.e. aging parents) or life event (i.e. infertility, empty nest, coming out) a crucial factor for you?
  3. Is there a particular problem or diagnosis (i.e. eating disorder, substance abuse) for which you prefer a specialist?

Using the Search Tools

You can use our search tools to find a clinician whose qualities and specialties match your requirements.

Once you have made an appointment, you may want to approach the first session as a mutual evaluation. The therapist will be making a professional assessment of whether he or she can meet your needs. You can use the first session to get some initial impressions about the fit between you and the therapist.

  • Did you feel listened to, understood and respected?
  • Did the therapist's comments and questions elicit new ideas or feelings in you?
  • Did you feel able to ask questions and discuss the issues and goals which are important to you?

Shop Around

Some people like to "shop around," having first sessions with two or three different therapists. Others feel they can trust their instincts if the first session feels like a comfortable fit. Therapists are comfortable with either approach; they do, however, appreciate knowing if you are "shopping."

GWSCSW . . . Advocates for YOU - Provides educational events for licensure renewal - Connects you with peers - Provides professional support for your career

Greater Washington Society for Clinical Social Work
PO Box 711, Garrisonville, Virginia  22463 | (202) 478-7638 

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