June 22, 2024

How to Find a Qualified Therapist

How do I find a qualified therapist to help me with mental-health treatment related to my experiences?

Below is a list of questions that may be helpful in answering this question. Remember, it is totally OK to “interview” therapists to make sure that you feel good about their expertise, their level of professionalism, and whether or not they feel like a good fit for you.

  1. What is your license or accreditation?
  2. What is your training and expertise?
  3. Do you have experience working with trauma? What types of trauma? (Note: experience with Complex PTSD will be helpful).
  4. What type of therapy do you practice? What does that look like in my treatment?
  5. What if I am not comfortable with a type of therapy you practice? How will we resolve that?
  6. Are you reachable in a crisis and emergency? If not, can you provide me with resources that can help me should that happen?
  7. Do you have any training or understanding of the impacts of cults, thought reform, coercion, or abuse?
  8. Do you practice hypnosis or other trance-induction techniques? (Note: some types of therapies using new age concepts, guided visualization, and hypnosis may be triggering. Proceed with caution.)
  9. How do you explain your fees, sliding scales, and cancellation policy? (Note: transparency and clarity are important.)
  10. How do you set treatment goals? What does that process look like?
  11. If I am uncomfortable with something you do or suggest, how should I handle it?

Additionally, you may ask yourself these questions after the initial assessment or call:

  1. Did I feel heard, understood and respected by the therapist?
  2. Did I feel like the relationship was collaborative with the therapist or were they the “expert” and I the pupil?
  3. Was the therapist willing to understand and make adjustments if there was something that made me feel uncomfortable?
  4. Was the therapist open to referring me to someone else if they did not have the level of expertise needed to address my therapeutic needs?
  5. Was the therapist open and direct in answering all of my questions?
  6. Did the therapist seem sensitive, intelligent, and mature? Did they seem to be someone with whom I can feel safe?
  7. Was the therapist open and willing to learn more and work toward understanding more about my specific areas of need?

Other things to keep in mind:

  1. Above all, trust your own judgment. If for some reason, you did not feel safe or were dismissed, that is enough. Look for another clinician.
  2. It is OK to interview different therapists until you find someone that will work for you. A healthy therapist will understand this and not take offense.
  3. You can stop therapy any time you want. At all times, you have a gas pedal and a brake. Your therapist should understand and respect this. Therapy is for you, not the therapist.
  4. Any therapist should understand the basics of ethical practices including non-sexual relationships with clients, caution around any touching, boundaries in relationships, and no dual relationships with clients. All of these areas should be openly discussed and navigated in a safe and respectful way.


Dr. Janja Lalich

Janja Lalich, Ph.D. is a researcher, author, and educator specializing in cults and extremist groups, with a particular focus on charismatic relationships, political and other social movements, ideology and social control, and issues of gender and sexuality.