Choosing a therapist, whether online or from an insurance provider list, can be a daunting task. The first step is determining which type of therapist you need.

Therapists, psychologists, marriage and family counselors, social workers, licensed professional counselors and psychiatrists should provide their license or certification information which is available for verification through their states' regulating body.

Decide whether you want to see a therapist in their office, or use online or 'eTherapy' and consult with a therapist online.

There are many types of licensed mental health professionals, differing in educational backgrounds, training, licensure philosophy and technique. Regardless of the degree, you should always interview a prospective therapist about their experience and training with similar concerns to yours.

Many of us enter therapy hoping to get some quick relief from the distress that we are experiencing. We are aware that therapy is costing us a lot in terms of time, money, and energy and we want to see some immediate results, especially when we are in pain.

It is important that you talk with your therapist about your expectations and needs from therapy. A good therapist will welcome this, and want to empower you, not make you dependent. Just like any relationship, the more you know and can express what you want, the better chance you will have of receiving that.

You may be entering therapy for the first time and not have a sense of what needs to happen other than you want to feel better. It is important to express this as well. Here is a list of what we have seen to be true for many people about therapy:

-It takes time to establish a trusting relationship with a therapist.

-It is important to go at your own pace and not overwhelm yourself.

-We all resist change. Don't be surprised if you are tempted to quit right before some real changes or breakthroughs are about to happen.

-Becoming more healthy and balanced can feel very unfamiliar and uncomfortable at first.

-Being committed to therapy will change your life. Be prepared to feel some loss from this.

-Others may resist your changes and growth and will need time to adapt.

-Therapy is hard work.

Your therapist is not perfect and will make mistakes. Hopefully he or she will acknowledge and take responsibility for those mistakes.

Some therapy is short term (usually focusing on one issue and situational) and other therapy may be longer term (more than one or complex issues.)

Expect your therapist to have good boundaries, avoid dual relationships, be ethical, and treat you with respect. If not, find another therapist.

Remember that therapy, in the hands of a skilled therapist, is a powerful and life-changing experience. It has been shown to be effective for a variety of illnesses and problems. If you need therapy and work as an active participant in your own treatment, you can expect it will be well worth the time and money
you invest.

Author's Bio: 

Judy Gifford is owner and founder of Find-a-Therapist, Inc. which includes and over 25 other mental health related websites. Find-a-Therapist, Inc., a pioneer in online therapist directories and among the first providing online therapy, was selected by Microsoft as a small business sucess story in 2004.

She was a therapist in private practice for 20 years.