I'm a licensed professional.
LPC - 62408
The most important factor in choosing a therapist, and this has been proven in numerous research studies, is the relationship between the therapist and the individual seeking therapy. I think the person in therapy needs to feel a connection, or a good "fit," with the therapist. A counselor’s particular theory doesn’t matter so much, nor do the techniques that a counselor uses to help people in therapy. A lot of discussion exists about Therapy A being most helpful for treatment of depression, for example, or Therapy B being most helpful for treating trauma, but in the end, the connection a person has with the therapist is the most important factor in determining if therapy is going to beneficial to someone or not.
I think important questions to ask yourself when you’re meeting a potential therapist for the first time are questions like, “Do I really feel that this person is listening to what I am saying?” and “Do I feel that this person is really understanding, even without the ability to “walk in my shoes” where I am coming from?” Those two questions go a long way in helping you decide whether you’ve found a good therapist for you.
I believe going to therapy is a sign of strength rather than a sign of being weak or flawed. The vast majority of us have things we struggle with, or things that we would like to improve about ourselves. Many of us don’t want to admit it, but it’s still true. Going to therapy is just an acknowledgement of these facts. I think going to therapy is also a sign of courage and hope -- courage to look at things about yourself or your past that you would prefer not to look at and hope that, by doing so, you can feel better and perhaps become more the person you would like to be. I have the utmost respect and admiration for people who choose to come to therapy. It is often difficult, but if you push through the discomfort and pain, it is worth it.
I think you counter this stigma through education, both during a counseling session and of the public at large. Again, we tend to think we’re alone when we’re going through depression, overwhelming anxiety, or any number of other mental health issues. If we can learn that what we’re going through is common, and even understandable, that can help lessen the stigma as well.