There are a lot of choices to make when it comes to picking a therapist. So how do you pick the right therapist that will help you and your kids?

After figuring out the issues of insurance, schedule, age, gender and office location, it is important to look at some other factors. Don’t underestimate the importance of finding a professional who inspires your trust and confidence. Finding a good therapist that fits you is always an individual matter, but above all, you need to make sure that you and your child feel comfortable in their presence.

In addition, there are six factors that you should look for when talking to or meeting with therapists that are going to help you and/or your children.

1. They gently nudge parents into action. Beware of a therapist who is overly confrontational at the onset of counseling or who is quick to blame the parent for their child’s problems. The other extreme is a therapist who simply presents dry, clinical facts and does not help encourage action. If you leave a professional’s office feeling energized and empowered, then you have probably found a good fit.

2. They acknowledge your expertise. Parents stepping into a therapist’s office generally feel frustrated and even deflated. They feel that their best efforts up to that point have failed. Your therapist should help restore your confidence as a parent. They should understand that you are the expert and continue to do many positive things as a parent. One of the greatest things a therapist can do is to help remind you of the tools you do have as a parent, but that have possibly been put into temporary storage based on circumstances.

3. They speak in plain English. Therapists often feel that in order to appear as the “expert” in the room, they need to use all of their $100 words. The best therapists don’t feel the need to use jargon to get their point across, and if they do use any clinical terminology, they make sure to explain what it means. This is especially true for children or adolescents who can easily get lost with a mouthful of words.

4. They explain the reasons for the methods suggested. Parents who aren’t told why they are asked to use a specific management method don’t always use them appropriately and often don’t stick with them long enough to make an impact on their child’s behavior. Your therapist should not expect blind obedience from you, because as the parent, you are the supervisor of this process. You need to have the flexibility to make the tools your own for your own unique environment and situation.

5. They empathize with your situation and acknowledge your accomplishments. The consistency required for parenting in difficult circumstances can be challenging and tiring. Look for a therapist who understands this, acknowledges your hard work and reminds you that you deserve credit for the improvements made in your family.

Lexie Ainge Cottle, M.A., LPCI, is a Lake Oswego resident who grew up in Lake Oswego and now has a private practice in professional counseling as part of the Compassionate Counseling Center in Tigard. She can be reached at 503-400-1512 or by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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