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Choosing a Therapist

Marti MacEwan, M.A.

Whether you want to deal with an emotional or behavioral problem, set some goals and find support for achieving them, or sort out something that's troubling you, these are qualities to look for in a therapist to help you:

Unconditional Positive Regard. Effective therapists have a caring and positive attitude toward toward their clients, no matter what their successes or failures, strengths or weaknesses or stage of growth. Emotional safety and acceptance allows honesty, and honesty leads to learning.

Empathy. Outstanding therapists genuinely understand their clients' thoughts, feelings, and motivations, without judgement. They gently and respectfully lead their clients to deeper levels of self-understanding, bringing about new realizations and positive change.

Respect. A respectful therapist knows that each person is his or her own best authority on themselves, that they have the right to choose what is best for them, and that they have the abilities and resources to bring about their own health and well-being.

Training and experience. A strong combination of natural ability, formal training and extensive supervised experience make a skillful therapist. Find someone with all three.

Special Knowledge Areas. No therapist can be all things to all people. Look for someone who has special knowledge and experience in your area of concern.