How to Find a Good Therapist: Ten Things to Consider

Gabriel Bryne

Dr. Weston would be my first choice…

What makes a good therapist or counselor?

Over the years I’ve seen a handful of therapists in short spurts to help get me through tough times, and I think I’m starting to get a better idea of what traits to look for in a counselor. Finding a good therapist can be a pain in the ass, so here are are a few things to consider when evaluating a new therapist.  I could go on and on (and on…) about this, but for this list I’ve capped it off at ten. Now, in no particular order…

1. Does it matter what kind of education your therapist had?

MFT, MSW, PHD, PSYD, I’ve tried each of these. I think you can get quality care from all of those options, but when you’re just starting out, definitely take a minute to read up on the differences in approach and schooling that your therapist undertook. More degrees may not lead to better treatment. For example I talked to a psychiatrist for a bit and all he wanted to do was give me drugs. So terrible! Then I worked with a social worker and was quite impressed with her care. It’s a crapshoot.

2. Along the same lines, before you book an appointment with your counselor, stalk their website! Who are they? Where are they from? What kind of therapy do they practice? How many years have they been practicing?

Do they have a dog? BONUS POINTS. I am not kidding. Do they lay out their interests and working approach online? This may save you a few awkward sessions where you try to weasel your way out of a commitment to a therapist who is just not a good fit. For example, when I clicked over to one possible MFT, I realized that she was a little bit too hippie dippie for me. While I liked that she took PayPal, I could tell we were not going to get on well. BULLET DODGED.

3. Do they speak your native language?

You’re going to be talking about some deep shit, you might as well be comfortable.

4. Money matters

How much do they charge per hour? Do they take your insurance? If not, will they work out a special fee system for you? Do not assume that you will pay more for a person with more education. Insurance is funny in that way. I paid $60/session for an MFT, and $20/session for a PHD. Shop around and don’t be afraid to talk cash with your therapist.

5. Do they have any testimonials on Yelp?

Yeah, I stalk all my doctors on Yelp. What?

6. Do you think that your potential new therapist can connect with your point of view and your struggles? Is your current issue one of their specialties?

It is so important to be comfortable with your therapist, and understanding your ish is part of that. Try as a they might, I don’t think that white men can really understand what it’s like to be a twenty-something Asian female. Lots of therapists will mention if they specialize in certain demographics, such as youth, chronically ill patients, or LGBTQ issues.

7. More on the approach to treatment

Is your potential new therapist goal oriented? Will they ask you to set concrete goals for treatment? Will they ask you to actively change, maybe even… give you homework assignments? Or is their approach more free form, perhaps talking about whatever you like every week? Is your therapist open to having joint relationship sessions with your partner if you are having romantic relationship issues?

8. Has your therapist lived through some shit? Is your therapist in therapy?

It’s kinda hard to snoop and figure this one out, but I think it’s so important for a therapist to have lived through some shit before they start working with you on how to get through your shit. It’s kind of like that therapist in Short Bus. What, you’ve never seen it? Save it for a rainy day.

9. Does your therapist offer remote therapy  (Skype calls, phone calls)?

Consistency in treatment is key for making progress. If you travel often, you may want to get a therapist who is comfortable offering different methods of connecting for your sessions. Phone counseling sounds weird, but when you already have a relationship with the therapist in person, you can slip back into comfort quite quickly over the phone.

10. Are you comfortable talking to your therapist? Can you be honest with them?

And obviously, most importantly, you gotta be able to talk to them. If you’re gonna grow, you have to be able to work with this person honestly, without fear of judgement.

On the other end of the spectrum, however, be cautious of therapists who end up feeling like your own personal cheerleader. Once you have a cheer squad behind you, you may feel afraid of letting them down, or telling them about your poor choices last weekend. They have become just another friend.  If that’s what you’re looking for, perhaps you should find a life coach instead. In fact, many therapists moonlight as life coaches on the side.

11. Bonus point to consider- Is your therapist financially secure? Are they on the hustle?

This sounds weird, but if you notice that your therapist is perhaps falling on hard times financially, and seems to be marketing heavily, or pushing you to increase your sessions, be careful! They need your business and their treatment may be a bit less than stellar due to their money woes. I’d never thought about this before, until I realized that my last therapist was hard up and trying to get me to do sessions when I wanted to take a break. Yeesh.


That’s all for now, but I hope this post was helpful for you fellow crazy diamonds out there. Maybe in the future I’ll write some more about how to literally go about finding and booking a therapist.

Life, San Francisco

So You Need a Place to Live? How to Respond to a Craigslist Ad for Housing Without Sounding Like a Psycho

It’s happened again. Time to search for another housemate. I always get really excited and anxious when this happens because I LOVE CHANGE. I love the drama and the feeling of possibility. I would change my wardrobe, job, family, house, everything over and over again if only there weren’t so many damn hurt feelings and uh… if it didn’t cost so much. Changing roommates is a way of shaking things up that doesn’t totally upend my life.

I’ve been on both sides of filling a vacant room in San Francisco, and either way it’s a competitive jungle.When I was searching for places during my first year or two in SF I had to send out scores of emails, ran all over town every day to interview, and oftentimes my interview turned out to be an open house where I was trying to stand out amongst 15+ people. It ain’t pretty, and while having a room to fill is less stressful, it’s still a lot of work. In our first 24 hours of posting our available room we’ve received 50+ responses. That’s a lot of people to sift through.

I think that over the last four years (5 apartments, 15+ roommates) I’ve gained a sense of what will or won’t work as far as putting up ads and answering ads. Here’s a few tips for the apartment SEEKERS.

When answering an ad for housing...


  • Be honest about what you’re looking for in a home. Do you want a party house? Do you want a calm place? Do you want a cooperative sharing household? It’s best to get that aligned in the beginning.
  • Say that you are gainfully employed and have not had a problem paying rent on time (if this is true). If you are unemployed… most people will want you to be employed, but I feel like if you can pay rent, and have a backup income source (even if it’s mom and dad) that’s okay. Everything is ok as long as the money is coming from somewhere.
  • Talk about yourself- what you do, what you’re into. Emails that are sent to us without any personal information at all are automatically deleted.
  • It seems like everybody in San Francisco is “new to the city and interested in discovering its secrets” and  “into hiking, yoga and wine/food”. Geez these responses are worse than OKCupid profiles! Try to include something you feel is really unique about yourself (a “hook”). Do you draw comics? Do you do improv downtown? Do you own a bunny rabbit?
  • Er… if you DO own a bunny rabbit, it might be best to include a video, link to the pet’s Facebook page, or some sort of “digital resume” so that we can see how cute and well-behaved the critter is. Houses will still have a serious bias against you and your litter-box trained rabbit, but who knows? They might be charmed.
  • State your flexibility as far as move in dates. The house might be flexible as well.
  • Include a link to the original apartment posting within the email you send so that when you receive a response you can remember which apartment you are talking about.


  • Include a link to your art. People will judge you for your nude maternity photography and Biggie Smalls paintings on sneakers.
  • Ask if you can let people couchsurf in our place. We don’t know you yet! No!
  • Mention your age. Let people meet you first before they decide that you’re “too young” or “too old.”
  • Include a link to your Facebook. I’m kind of on the fence about this one, but my general policy is that you’re just trying to get your foot in the door for an interview, so the less information the better. People may decide not to write back to you just based on your musical tastes or profile photo. It’s not nice, but it happens.
  • Talk about what drugs you are or are not into. Just don’t go there.
  • Quote Bible verses. What does this have to do with finding a house?
  • Ask for pictures of the room. If there were no pictures in the Craigslist ad, there are probably no pictures of the room.
  • Ask how close the apartment is to an identifiable landmark (BART, downtown, etc). You can probably figure it out via Google Maps, or ask when you see the place.
  • Obviously show that you haven’t read the ad by asking questions that are answered in the ad.

I could think of a ton more, but these are the things that irked me most in this round of house interviews. Add your own pointers in the comments if you have any extra tips.