Tiffany Music Therapy

7 Tips to Help You Find a Therapist

We are born in relationship, we are wounded in relationship, and we can be healed in relationship."

By: Holly Jamieson, MMT, MTA, RP-Q

The road to finding a therapist can be daunting, complicated and stressful. As you type in “therapist near me”, thousands of entries come up which can make it difficult to find someone who is the best fit for you.

We’ve compiled a list of tips to support you on your journey to finding the right therapist.

1. Locate a directory of therapists.

A directory is a collection of qualified therapists that you can search through specific filters like location, age, issues treated or therapeutic approach.

In Ontario, Registered Psychotherapists and Registered Social Workers can practice psychotherapy.

See below for some reputable options in Ontario:

Psychology Today
The Affordable Therapy Network

2. Identify what you want to work on in therapy.

Through identifying which specific challenges and issues you want to work through in therapy, you’ll be able to narrow down your search to therapists who work in this area. You can then use the provided filters within each directory to narrow down your search to therapists who specialize in the treatment you are seeking.

Sometimes, we may have more than one challenge we wish to work through in therapy. If this is the case, you can filter the search even further to narrow down to therapists who would be the best fit for the presenting problems you are wanting to work through.

3. Consider which therapeutic approach you resonate with.

There are many different styles, modalities and theories that any given therapist may work within.

Some therapists will take a mixed-method approach where they will draw from several different modalities in their work. Others may use a specific treatment modality and practice solely within that space.

These different approaches generally fall within the following categories: top down processing, bottom up processing or side-door.

Top Down Processing:

This includes modalities such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT), or Solution-Focused Therapy among others.

These approaches place more emphasis on cognition, thinking patterns and behaviours. These approaches tap into our logic and reasoning so we can develop an understanding of how our thought patterns may play a role in the challenges we face and work to address where aspects of our cognition may not be serving us. These approaches engage in processing how trauma can live in the mind and how this manifests in our everyday lives.

Bottom Up Processing:

This includes modalities such as Internal Family Systems (IFS), Emotion-Focused Therapy (EFT), and Somatic Therapies.

These approaches look at how trauma can live in the body and how we can understand and relate to our emotional experiences.

Through bottom-up processing we can begin to understand how our body responds to certain stimuli and ultimately how we can attain nervous system regulation and get back to baseline.

Side Door:

These are additional approaches that may involve more creativity and alternate ways of processing and expressing. This is where music psychotherapy or other expressive arts modalities can play a role.

Through side-door approaches we look at alternate ways to relate to our experiences and express emotion.

Some clinicians will use a more holistic approach which can incorporate elements of top down, bottom up and side door processing. Spend some time reflecting on what you most resonate with yourself!

4. Make a list, what else is important to you in your therapy?

The pandemic had a big impact on the field of psychotherapy as many therapists had to move to online platforms to provide psychotherapy. Now, there are therapists who practice in-person and therapists who practice virtually. What might you prefer? If you are seeking in-person support, you may want to find a therapist who is close to home to cut down on time spent commuting.

You may also wish to consider your budget for therapy support. The affordable therapy network has some great options for anyone seeking more budget-friendly options.

Many providers also offer sliding scale options for those working within a more limited budget.

If you have insurance through your occupation, you may want to see if psychotherapy is covered as many insurance policies do cover psychotherapy support.

5. Connect with the therapist you’re interested in, before making an appointment.

Many therapists will offer new clients the opportunity for a free phone consultation. This gives the client and therapist a chance to connect and see if it’s a good fit. You may want to come up with a list of questions you might want your potential therapist to answer before your call.

Some clients may set up several consultations with several different therapists they may be interested in. This is encouraged! This really gives you the chance to see who you most want to work with. One of the most important aspects of therapy is a good working relationship between the client and therapist, this consultation will give you a sense of whether or not this is someone you can see yourself connecting well with.

6. Anti-Oppressive Practice

Another item you may wish to consider is the importance of an anti-oppressive framework to psychotherapy.

Anti-Oppressive Practice is a framework through which psychotherapy is practiced which acknowledges the impact of systemic oppression, discrimination, structural power imbalances and social location on mental health, coping and emotional distress.

A provider who practices through this framework places emphasis on social justice and commits to condemning and fighting against systemic oppression. This may be of importance to you and could be something to consider when seeking a therapist.

7. Ask questions!

Therapy can be an abstract idea and can be difficult to wrap our heads around. There are many different styles and approaches and many different challenges that bring people to psychotherapy support.

If there is anything you are curious about or want further information on, ask your potential therapist during the consultation. They can help answer some more specific or complex questions that you may have.

We wish you the best of luck in your search! While the search can be time consuming and comes with its own challenges, beginning this process is the first step in your therapeutic journey. You’ve got this!


Path to Recovery: Top-Down, Bottom-Up, or Through the Side Door? (CRPO Competencies)