How to Find a Therapist Who Isn’t Completely Cray

Hi, there.

I’m a therapist.  I’ve also been a client.  I eat, sleep, and breathe therapy like it’s my job…probably because it is.

Unfortunately, there are a lot of crazy therapists out there, and I am here to tell you how to avoid them like how Freud didn’t avoid cocaine.  …you know what I mean.

freud crazy

1. Google that shit

Got a referral for an awesome therapist recommended by your cousin’s girlfriend’s mongoose?  Better type the name straight into that magical search bar of truth.  Avoid this therapist if you end up seeing: naked pictures of mongeese, horns protruding from his skull, or any sort of online dating profile that mentions sushi.

2. Educate yourself

Credentials can be tough to understand, since they vary from state to state, and from one locked psych ward to another.  Does this therapist have a bunch of letters and numbers after her name?  Good.  Once you’re sure this isn’t her vehicle’s license plate number (but if it is, then be sure to write that down to save for a rainy day), make sure none of the letters stand for words like “experimental,” “fucktastic,” or “Canadian.”

3. Do the drapes match the carpet?

The way a therapist decorates her office says a lot about who she is.  How does the couch look?  Can you picture yourself spending hours uncontrollably sobbing into the armrest?  Check. Next, look around the room.  If you don’t see any inspirational sayings or posters of cats desperately trying not to fall to their death from a tree with an inscription reading, “Hang in there!” then you get the hell outta there.  There had also be some smelly candles and one of those soft foam bats for days when the shit really hits the therapeutic fan.

Cuteness is inspirational.

4. Test the therapist to make sure he’s listening

Throw in some important tidbits about yourself and see how he responds.  Be sure to mention your compulsion to projectile vomit when you hear the sound of a vacuum cleaner and that you secretly become aroused watching old people feed birds at the park.  Any response besides “mm-hmm,” “go on,” and “tell me more about that” are winners.

5. A good therapist matches your language level

Make your therapist really work for your hard-earned money cannibus (see next section).  Use a Boston accent and swear like a drunken sailor in your first session, and if you don’t have your therapist saying “That’s wicked awesome!” or “That fackin’ sucks!” or “How ’bout dem apples?!” then that’s a bad sign.  Next, move on to speaking like you’ve walked right out of Downton Abbey, followed by an imitation of the Crocodile Hunter, may goddess rest his soul.

6. The price is right

Find a therapist who will negotiate with you in terms of payment.  Will he accept regifted shirts from Tommy Bahamas?  How about The Gap?  If all else fails, offer to fold his fitted sheets in return for some Good Will Hunting style bear hugs, followed by repeatedly being told that it’s not your fault.

7.  Finally, don’t come knocking at my door for any sweet, sweet cathartic bliss, because….my schedule is all full up.  Now pass the cocaine.


Four out of five therapists say writing for this blog is cathartic, and way cheaper. In fact no money is ever seen by anyone.  

The Official How To Blog is the one-true source for all information and psychiatry needs

38 thoughts on “How to Find a Therapist Who Isn’t Completely Cray

  1. I’ve been trying to do a piece on my experiences with psychiatrists/psychologists because they are truly all nuts.

    This is brilliant. If only I’d had “that magical search bar of truth” when I needed (or actually, didn’t need) help, well, life would have been better. Or different. Or something.

  2. Yes, if I saw that cat poster I would run for the hills. I have a friend who is studying to become a psychologist. In one of her first classes the professor asked the class who was taking the courses to find out what was wrong with them. All of them raised their hands. There ya go.

  3. Also why is it that therapists are so good at getting you to talk about stuff that has nothing to do with why you’re there? It was like, we’ve talked about your anxiety for the past 20 billion appointments, let’s talk about your relationship with your husband and by the time you leave, I’ll have you believing that you’ve married the DEVIL!! AHHAHAHAAA!! Whaaaaa? Not cool therapists. Not COOL.

  4. Pingback: Ride the healing train to sexytown | Psychobabble

  5. My favorite thing about my psychologist is his office. It is seriously the most cathartically-decorated space ever. Do they teach you guys how to decorate them in school?

    • They do, actually.
      I remember talking about paint colors, and what kinds of pictures/images to put on the walls…
      One office I worked in put a mirror on the wall opposite where the client sits…it’s symbolic for self-reflection (and the client could only see ve’s self once ve stood up, not when ve was sitting).
      One important one was how to position furniture…don’t place anything between you and the client, and also position the client’s seat furthest from the door so us therapists can get out first in an emergency.
      Lots of thought goes into it!

  6. My therapist is one of the staff members at the hospital they took me to when I suffered an accidental sleeping pill overdose on purpose.

    That has happened to me twice now. And it was quite a few years ago.

    He’s a bit old, and seems to think about things I tell him for quite a long time before he replies. His pen though… it is always moving.

    His office looks like every other office on the sixth floor… about 6′ x 8′ and feels quite cramped. He has nothing but his diplomas on the walls.

    But he’s a good guy and has kept me from trying to do myself in for quite a few years now. Nothing fancy with him; but you get good solid support. And Wellburtrin & Seroquel… Very good medication for people like me who suffer from depression.

  7. This was pretty awesome. I’m still a little dumbfounded by your distaste for the classic Hang in There poster that’s been helping countless teenagers through their angst years since 1977.

  8. I think that projectile vomiting is vastly underrated. If I had a therapist – not saying I need one, mind you – I would test him/her/it by projectile vomiting on:
    1. their latest copy of The New Yorker;
    2. their latest 401K statement;
    3. their Gucci’s or Bruno Magli’s;
    4. their drapes.

  9. Re: 6, we already know how to fold fitted sheets thanks to a previous How To post 😉

    good advice nonetheless, too late for me but I’ll be looking at my therapist in a new light now ;]

  10. I saw my fist therapist at the age of 20 or so… For 15 years I have been seeing a handfull of them with very different aproches. Most of the time I cancelled or didn’t even show up for a third or fourth meeting. Only last year I finally found someone with a high BS detector … a keeper 😉

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