What should I look for in a therapist, and how can I know that a therapist is "right" for me?

As with any relationship or person, there is no such thing as a "perfect" therapist.  

Every therapist at some point or another will disappoint you and not live up to your expectations.  This is part of life
and relationships and is also part of what can be useful to explore in treatment.  However, there does need to be a
basic compatibility between the patient and the therapist.  

In looking for a therapist, you should first make sure that they have demonstrated academic and professional
competence through their training and certification.  

They should be licensed to practice in your state, which indicates that they have met certain basic standards and have
also kept up with appropriate continuing education.  

f their profession offers board certification, that also is an indicator that they have been examined by professional
peers and shown the necessary level of competence for certification.  You can also check if they have ever had
complaints against them by contacting their appropriate state licensing board.  

Your therapist should have sufficient experience in working with the kinds of problems with which you are dealing
and shown competence as reflected by his or her reputation among colleagues and the community.  

Perhaps most important is whether you feel comfortable with them.  

Do you feel safe?  

Do you feel as though you can trust them?

Does it seem that you share compatible value systems, and that you can share the same goals for treatment?

Does it feel to you as though your therapist really listens to what you're saying or does it feel that he or she is merely
trying to fit you into a particular theoretical framework out of which they operate?

The more positive responses that you have to these questions, the more likely it will be that you and your therapist will
have a successful therapeutic experience together.