Dr. Carrie L. Forrest, Ph.D.

How to Choose a Therapist

As a consumer of psychological services it is important that you be able to intelligently decide who you want to help you solve your problems.
Dr. Arnold Lazarus is a psychologist who devised this questionnaire to help people make this decision. The following questions can help you find a therapist to make the changes in your life that you want. Use the five point scale below in rating each of the following statements.

4 - This statement is true.
3 - It is true most of the time.
2 - It is true some of the time.
1 - It is seldom true.

0 - It is never true.

____ 1.  I feel comfortable with the therapist.

____ 2.  The therapist seems comfortable with me.

____ 3.  The therapist is casual and informal rather than stiff and formal.

____ 4.  The therapist does not treat me as if I am sick, defective, and about to fall apart.

____ 5.  The therapist is flexible and open to new ideas rather than pursuing one point of

____ 6.  The therapist has a good sense of humor and a pleasant disposition.

____ 7.  The therapist is willing to tell me how he/she feels about me.

____ 8 . The therapist admits limitations and does not pretend to know things he/she      
              doesn't know.

____ 9.  The therapist is very willing to acknowledge being wrong and apologizes for
              making errors or for being inconsiderate, instead of justifying this kind of

____10. The therapist answers direct questions rather than simply asking me what I think.

____11. The therapist reveals things about himself/herself either spontaneously or in
              response to my inquiries (but not by bragging and talking incessantly and

____12. The therapist encourages a feeling that I am as good as he/she is.

____13. The therapist acts as if he/she is my consultant, rather than the manager of my

____14. The therapist encourages differences of opinion rather than telling me that I
              am resisting if I disagree with him/her.

____15. The therapist is interested in seeing people who share my life (or is at least
              willing to do so). This would include family, friends, lovers, work associates, or
              any other significant people in my environment.

____16. The things that the therapist says make sense to me.

____17. In general, my contacts with the therapist lead to my feeling more hopeful and
              having higher self-esteem.

_____  Total

                                             Interpreting your Score:
You would probably not feel comfortable working with a therapist who rated below 50 points. Certainly, you should not even consider working with someone where the score fell below 40 points. Don't hesitate to see several therapists before choosing one. Also, decisions are not irrevocable. Don't think you have to stay with a particular therapist simply because you have started or have been with the same person for months or even years. It is your time, money, and well being that are at stake. If you  have tried several therapists with different styles and personalities and none seems satisfactory, perhaps it is better to work with the one who has the highest score rather than using an absolute figure.