Making the decision to bring a loved one to get the mental healthcare that they need or to decide to take care of your own mental health is one that takes courage. It is far too often today that people neglect a family member’s mental health or their own because they’re worried about what people will say about them going to a psychotherapy clinic.

Congratulations on making this decision and now there is just one more thing that you have to decide on: which psychotherapy clinic do you choose to go to? There are many choices for people; even those with homes in more rural areas are usually not too far a drive away from a city. Here are the basics on how to find a reputable psychotherapy clinic:

Make a List– and no, you don’t have to check it twice. This is the first step towards getting a good psychotherapy clinic because it shows you all of your options. It’s from those options that you can narrow the list down to that one clinic that is perfect for you. Lists of providers can be obtained from your doctor.

Remember, of course, that you’re not creating a list of every clinic in the country, but those within, say about a two-hour drive from your home. This is a great place to start from.

Get Referrals – This one is purely optional and for people who are comfortable with asking around about psychotherapy clinics. If you don’t have any issues asking others, like family, friends, or colleagues about therapists, then this is a great way to shorten the list quickly. If not, don’t worry about it!

Check their Website – This is the second place to go and where one can get a lot of information, like their phone number, address, and some background on the psychotherapy clinic. Keep these websites bookmarked, as you will likely be referring to them quite often from here on in.

What one can do to narrow down the list right away is to find basic information on the therapist like a photo and their sex. If their photo looks like some kind of glamour shot, then it’s probably best to move on. If you, or your loved one, is more comfortable talking to one sex over the other, than this will also help to narrow down the choices.

Check their Qualifications – This is where their websites come in handy, again. It’s important to know what the qualifications of the therapists are at any psychotherapy clinic. Is it important that they have perfect credentials from an ivy league school? No, but they should at least meet the basic requirements to practice.

Ask for their rates – This is something that might be available on their website or through their e-mail. Few will only give out their rates by phone. So, in most cases discovering their rates is pretty easy and fairly quick. This is also an immediate way to narrow that list down quite a bit. 

If you have insurance coverage or you’re paying out of pocket, both cases have limits on what can be covered. At this point, any rate that goes beyond that number may need to come off the list, if you’re unwilling to cover it out of pocket.

Is the location acceptable? – This is the next way to narrow down the list and where that website is still useful. When it comes to location, the simple question becomes just how far are you willing to drive? It’s the answer that will narrow down that list further.

It’s also the answer for certain psychotherapy clinics on that list that might surprise you. Some people will end up saying that going to X clinic an hour away is just not worth it, but doing to clinic Y two hours away is! 

Is that strange? No, it comes from the same concept of flipping a coin. Some people will accept the results of the coin flip, while others will protest it, showing which choice they really want. Either way, this will still help to choose the psychotherapy clinic that best suits you.

Arrange a consultation – Seeing a therapist once doesn’t mean that you, or anyone else, has signed a contract. Quite the contrary, many psychologists understand that not everyone is a great fit for them and vice versa. 

Bringing in that loved one, or yourself, for a simple consultation to get to know what to expect from a councillor is important to know before making that final plunge.

What is the staff like? By now, that list should contain only a few or perhaps just one psychotherapy clinic on it. If you’ve found the one you like, great! If you still can’t choose, then see how good a fit the staff is to help make that final decision.