Choosing the right therapist is important. Research shows that two factors predict success in psychotherapy: the client and therapist relationship, and the therapist’s experience with and knowledge about the type of psychotherapy sought. Simply referring to the telephone book is likely to be an intimidating process. The suggestions below can help you select the right therapist.

Friends or Family

While some people feel awkward talking about mental health issues, many people are willing to talk about their experiences with therapy. By asking those you trust about their use of psychotherapy, you can gain valuable information about a therapist in your area who may be right for you.

Family Physician

Primary care practitioners, OB-GYNs and other physicians often see patients with emotional problems who may benefit from therapy. These practitioners, after listening to your situation, are in a good position to help you determine what type of therapist would be best and identify local professionals in whom they have trust. Your physician might even have a person to whom she typically refers patients.

Human Resources or Employee Assistance Program

Many organizations have a human resources person or EAP provider who can offer names of therapists who specialize in addressing your problem. Sometimes they can help you make the appointment. Such referrals might be limited to your insurance plan’s provider list, if any.

Professional Organization Referral Sources

Many state psychiatric, psychological and social work departments have referral services that attempt to match clients with therapists. Other community resources, such as mental health centers, churches or hospitals, also might have a referral function. Such referrals can be useful. Keep in mind, however, that the referral procedure varies by organization. Some agencies simply may refer to the next practitioner on the list. Ask the agency how they make their referrals.