Tips on Selecting a Psychotherapist

Selecting a therapist can be a difficult task. I decided to write this post in an attempt to help give some pointers on selecting a therapist.  Below are some points that I hope will help you on your journey:

  • Look at the therapist’s credentials on their webpage or profile. If they do not clearly list their credentials (ie RP and Registered Psychotherapist) or their education (ie clearly listing the University that they attended, what degrees they obtained and the year of graduation) you may want to further inquire if they have a background in Psychology and/or Psychotherapy.

  • Be aware of abbreviations on websites related to the practitioner’s credentials. Ethically, the abbreviation should be clearly described in a visible part on the same page. For example, someone stating RP(Q) and not Registered Psychotherapist Qualifying (Qualifying meaning that the therapist has not yet met the conditions to practice solely as a Psychotherapist and is still working to meet the standards of the College to do so). 

  • Look to see if they clearly list their session prices online, including, if taxes are required on top of the fee or if it is included.  

  • Make sure that your therapist is located within the jurisdiction of Ontario. There are a few websites, some of which are based outside of Canada, which offer package deals and/or low-cost therapy. Offering packages for Psychotherapy in Ontario is prohibited by the Colleges and there are many good reasons for this. To be afforded the protections you are entitled to, the therapist needs to be within Ontario.

  • Consult with your healthcare professional, if you feel comfortable.  

  • Be aware of gimmicks. For example, if someone advertises to be “the best” or that their therapy works or if they provide some sort of a guarantee, this may be a red flag. No therapy is guaranteed. Providing a guarantee is in contradiction of ethical codes of most Colleges in Ontario. 

  • It may be worth inquiring if the therapist has a physical office for in-person sessions, if that is your preference. Alternatively, if you prefer virtual or phone sessions check to make sure your therapist is equipped to do so.  In that case you may want to inquire into if that person has a PHIPA compliant, secure virtual service for you to do your sessions with. 

  • Are the schools that your prospective therapist attended be accredited in this province?  

  • Don’t be afraid to ask for a free consultation from your prospective therapist. They may not grant this; however, this is a short period of time where you can briefly discuss your needs and mutually decide if therapist and client(s) are a good fit.

  • It is okay to interview a therapist to see if they are a good fit for you. It is important to have a feeling of safety with the therapist to do the work that is needed. It may be worth asking the therapist about: 
  1. Their education in Psychotherapy. You may want to inquire if their undergraduate and graduate degrees had a focus on psychology, psychotherapy and mental health.
  2. How long they have been practicing psychotherapy. (ie some listings may include years of experience outside of psychotherapy).
  3. Experience with the issue(s) that you have sought therapy for. For example, if you are seeking couple therapy, you may want to ask them how much of their practice is devoted to couple work, how long they have been working with couples, their graduate and post-graduate work in couple therapy, as well as their supervision by another therapist to whom is experienced with couple work. 
  4. Their supervision by another therapist in the past or present.  
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