How to choose a psychologist

Tessa Burns MartinPsychotherapy, Tessa Burns


Part of my job as the owner of Serenity Now Wellness is to be looking for ways to get our name out there. And it is getting increasingly difficult because there is so much information out there. As I was working with my marketing team, I started to describe how much things have changed in the past 7 years since I opened my business. When I first opened, it was rare for psychologists to have a website. Psychology Today, which today hosts hundreds of therapist profiles, only had 4 profiles. As I was talking about this shift and wondering how to separate ourselves from other psychologists in Calgary, I suddenly had a moment that made me stop and think “If there are that many people listed for mental health services, it must be really overwhelming for the people out there struggling.” So, how do you choose a counsellor when there is so much information, so many practitioners, with so many different skills out there?!? Here are three tips:

  1. Create a list of things that are important to you when working with someone. Write the list on a sheet of paper or keep the list in your head. Explore what are some of the traits that will work for you and the things that won’t. For example, do you have a preference for male or female? Do you want someone who is more directive or someone with a softer approach? Do you want to explore deeper patterns or are you looking for solutions that are strictly present-day focus? With that list, you will be able to look through a website and quickly move through the ones that do not appeal to you.
  2. Talk to a friend or family member. Remember we are moving out of a time where counselling was considered only for people with serious mental illness. Your friends and family know you so they may be able to recommend someone that they know will be a great fit for you. Also, it can be helpful to hear from friends and family their experiences with counselling. For those clients I know who have reached out to the people around them, they have reported that they were surprised by how many people had also needed help. Knowing there are others around you who have reached out for support can help you feel less alone.
  3. Use your intuition. Of all the tips I have listed, I believe this tip to be the most important. I believe that we know so much more than we think we know. You might get a feeling in your gut or an uncomfortable feeling in your heart when you look at a website. If you notice anything come up when you are browsing through a website, or even when you see a business name, take a second and breathe into that feeling. Ask yourself what the feeling is trying to communicate to you. And, trust that feeling. Even if the business is popular but something feels off, that feeling will probably serve you more than if you try to discount it. I know in my life, when I have had to make difficult decisions, if I sit with my intuition, I might feel a sense of peace even though I am still in the midst of a stressor. And, I feel like I am right 100% of the time when I listen to my intuition. The same seems to be true with my clients; they rarely regret the decisions they made intuitively but struggle with regret for decisions they tried to think their way through.

Finding a counsellor can be a difficult process during a time where you are already struggling. Hopefully by using the three tips above, you will find more peace in the process. If you need some help navigating through the struggle, send me an email and I can try to help (whether it is working with me or someone else that I feel would be a great fit).

Take care,