Introducing the New Therapist Checklist

It’s hard for me to believe that it’s been almost 9 years since I wrote Finding a Therapist. It’s a special article for me as it’s is the first I ever wrote for and I’m thrilled when people use it to help them find a therapist.

I’ve thought a lot about that article over the years, wondering how it could be even more helpful. My first idea was just to write a revised Finding a Therapist article with additional updates that would also reflect general changes and developments in public consciousness in the past decade. ‘Yeah, but nah,’ I thought to myself. ‘Is there any way to actually make the counsellor-finding process easier?’

Information Overload

I sympathize with all the Vancouver folks looking for a therapist. I’ve been there. Vancouver has historically been saturated with therapists and healers, easily earning the nickname Lotusland. And I know that people in other cities struggle as well, as do rural folks with a limited pool to choose from (who have a different set of challenges).

We might also feel lost if we’ve had the same therapist for years and then they retire, or even die. Or maybe we move to a new town where we don’t know anyone. Or we found a therapist who was not the right fit and we need to start anew. Or finances have changed and we need to look for a lower-cost counselling service.

With the proliferation of online information, some might even say that the search for a counsellor is even harder than when I wrote my original Finding a Therapist. When I started Willow Tree Counselling, my unscientific research revealed that less than half of Metro Vancouver counsellors had a website. Now, it’s more uncommon not to have one.

Let’s Get Organized

So what’s a potential counselling client to do when it comes to finding a counsellor and being faced with a deluge of information and choices?

If we’re lucky, we may get a referral from a trusted family member, friend or health professional. This simplifies the search dramatically but many of us don’t have these recommendations on hand, especially if we haven’t (or don’t want to) talk to others about our search. Whether it’s websites, online counselling directories, social media profiles and more, the whole process can be both overwhelming and confusing.

So I thought: there has to be another way; I started googling, looking for tools that help clients find a therapist. There are a lot of great articles out there, but I couldn’t find a tool that would help potential counselling clients both organize their counsellor search and also yield meaningful information, personalized to each counsellor that they are considering.

As such, when I couldn’t find anything online, I decided it was time to develop something.

Specifically, I wanted to create a tool that would help potential counselling clients:

  • Succinctly identify factors to consider in choosing a counsellor, preferably at a glance
  • Reveal in-person/experiential considerations not always captured through online information
  • Create an individualized therapist profile for each potential counsellor
  • Organize and synthesize important variables to look for in a therapist/counselling office
  • Compare created counsellor profiles side by side

Alternatively, to use a different analogy, if you’re a renter looking for a place to live, there are renters’ checklists galore. A quick Google search on “renters checklist” revealed 14 million results—ok, some of these won’t be relevant—but there’s a lot more support available with this kind of search.

And the biased counsellor that I am believes that counsellor search support is important too!

I understand that it’s hard to get excited about forms, and if you sense my excitement and laugh at my counsellingnerdweirdness, I’m fine with that. And while I don’t need you to share in my enthusiasm for checklists, if this one is useful to you, I’m very glad.

So without further adieu, I present the New Therapist Checklist.