Sigh… it took me time to find both therapists. I was looking for help with bipolar, as I had yet to be diagnosed with the OCD/ADHD.
Things that mattered to me:
– The therapist should be no more than five minutes late. One therapist was frequently up to TWENTY minutes late. It took me a while to get wind of this and move on – I absolutely can not stand tardiness.
– The therapist should not have a ton of junk in their office. There are some therapists that want you to play with toys, etc. That was not and is not my style.
– The therapist should not ask me stupid questions, be sarcastic and should not be condescending, she should not tell someone, who was initially diagnosed with PPD, things like “What did you think it was going to be like being a parent?”
– The therapist should be dressed ‘appropriately’ – i.e. not wear short skirts or clothes that draw attention to their bodies in a sexual manner. (In my opinion it shows bad judgment)
– Stay away from someone who has annoying habits. No nail biters, skin pickers, or God forbid, gum poppers. (Even gum chewing gets to me because I’m on edge, waiting for the gum to pop.)
– Ask if they’ve read books you’ve read that you find useful. “Yes” is a good answer, “No” is a medium answer, “No, should I?” is an okay answer.
– (I got this from a friend of mine who is often brutally honest) If you are the wee bit racist or sexist, now is not the time to work on those issues. If you don’t like white women, do not get a white female counselor. If you are afraid and intimidated by large people, do not hire an ex-football player. It is not “right” for you to have those views, but you really need to focus on your current issues, rather than fight inwardly these ghosts and get nothing out of the counseling.
– Look for good confidentiality. I had a counselor who had a waiting room with the name of the counselors in the area’s name next to a button you pressed – I liked that. She would meet me discretely in her office. I had another who would come to the top of the stairs and yell down at me. That, I didn’t like.
– Don’t feel like you have to say everything right away. It took me two years to bring up a very private story with my long-time therapist. It’s a story she and only she will ever know. This trust doesn’t immediately snap in to place, at least not for me. For you, maybe you’ll hit it off right away.
– If he or she says something that makes you feel uncomfortable right off the bat, move on. I didn’t do this and wasted another hour of time that I’ll never get back. She talked and prayer and discernment (things I believe in) but also that the time would come when I would go off my drugs. WAIT! Go off my drugs? Never, ever in a million years, unless a doctor of psychiatry admits me into the hospital and attends to me as I go through the withdraws. There will be none of this, “We prayed together, you must be healed now.”
– This is really controversial, but you don’t need a Christian counselor. There I’ve said it. I have met with more than a handful of counselors. I met with one very kind, very good man who was a Christian, for marriage counseling and then when I was suicidal for a year. After I was diagnosed with the bipolar and started seeing a wonderful counselor who was not religious who showed me just how limited my Christian counselor was in terms of training and skills.
-However, if you are having a crisis of faith, or dealing with issues with your sexuality, a Christian counselor would probably be more appropriate.
This list is probably not what you expected, but I hope this information is useful.