Admitting we need help to face life’s issues is sometimes one of the hardest things we’ll ever have to do.

Once we have made the decision to reach out and seek psychotherapy, we want to find someone that we feel we can connect with — someone we feel can truly understand not only where we are, but who we are. Most importantly, we want to find someone we can trust with our innermost thoughts and feelings.

Finding a therapist should not be a rushed decision. It should take a little bit of time and effort. If you choose a therapist that you do not feel connected with, chances are you won’t make much progress. Here are some tips for choosing the right therapist for you.

1. Research, research, research.

Researching a therapist is very important. It is not only important to conduct research on therapists, but to also research and familiarize yourself with the types of therapies that are offered. Common types of therapy include individual therapy, group therapy, family therapy, and couples therapy.

2. Look for experience.

If you are seeing a therapist for a particular issue, look for therapists who have experience in that area. If you had cancer, you would see an oncologist and not an ophthalmologist; why treat your therapy experience any differently? There are therapists who specialize in a variety of issues; some may specialize in several. Look for experience to find your unique fit.

3. Try to make an early connection.

See if the therapist you are interested in offers consultations. This provides an opportunity for you to ask questions and get a general “feel” of the therapist. During this time you can ask important questions about their treatment philosophy, how they have worked to help others and how they feel they can help you, or any other important questions you may have. When you leave you may wish to assess how comfortable you felt, if you felt the therapist was sincere, and if you feel you could be honest without feeling judged or criticized.

4. Check licensing and insurance.

All therapists are not licensed and this is okay. However, if you choose to see a licensed therapist, check their license. You can contact your state licensing board to see if your therapist’s license is current and if it is in good standing. You are also able to check if there have been complaints filed against the therapist. In most states this information can be found online; if you can’t access it there simply call the board. If you are insured and wish to use your insurance, you may wish to find out the requirements of your insurance company. Some companies require you to be treated by a licensed therapist or even a psychologist or psychiatrist. You also want to make sure your therapist accepts your insurance.

5. Never settle.

If you are not comfortable with the therapist you have chosen, do not feel bad about changing therapists. You may need to see a few before you find the therapist that is the right fit for you. You should continue your search until you feel you are understood and accepted. Signs that you may need to change your therapist include feeling uncomfortable, not feeling heard, or when your therapist talks more than listens or constantly gives advice or directives.

Taking the step to seek help for any problem is a huge step. It takes a lot of courage to admit we can’t face our issues alone. Make the best decision possible by taking the necessary time, and doing the appropriate research to choose a therapist that is right for you. By remaining open, honest, and willing to receive help, the therapeutic process can be very productive and beneficial.