I am a huge advocate of seeing a good therapist. You know why? Because LIFE IS HARD, and sometimes you just need someone to tell you it's ok to be overwhelmed, and occasionally to maybe slap you back into the realm of reality in a comforting and safe environment.
I have had great therapists--my marriage counselor was a wonderful woman (well, maybe she still is, since she's still alive), and she was able to steer our marriage from the rocks into smooth waters with a few suggested exercises and by facilitating better communication. I firmly believe she saved my marriage.
That said, there's nothing worse than a bad therapist, and there are just as many bad ones out there as good ones. I've had some craptastic therapists, so I'm going to give you the benefit of my experience, to save you time and money.
With the disclaimer that I am not a professional, and my only experience with therapy is actually attending it, and you should discuss any mental health concerns with your primary care doctor, this is my list of therapists to avoid:
The "Mountain Out Of A Molehill" Jerky Jones: I once had a therapist belittle my feelings to the point that I would have anxiety attacks about going to therapy. Your feelings are not stupid. They are feelings, and you dread your therapy appointment so much that you find yourself choosing to schedule that long-awaited dental surgery just to avoid it, you need a different therapist!
The "All About Me" Chatty-Cathy: If more of your appointment is spent hearing about your counselor's life than talking about your own, you've got the wrong person. If you know your therapist's family structure down to how many kids or grandkid's she or he has, something's not right. There's a difference between empathizing and using a patient as a sounding board. And don't feel bad about changing therapists--it's only business, and your business is what you're paying to get off your chest!
The "Tell Me Again" Annie:
If your therapist forgets your name and/or your issues from one session to the next, run away, and don't let the door hit your ass on the way out. If your problems aren't important enough for your therapist to remember, you'll never get the help you need. Remember, you are the client, and that means your anxiety attacks or feelings of anxiousness, anger, or depression are real to you, and important to you, and they should be equally important and real to a good therapist.
The "Belligerent Bob":
Your therapist may tell you things you don't necessarily want to hear. But a good therapist is going to let you get there on your own time, and help you see it for yourself. If your therapist seems angry with you, puts you down, or otherwise antagonizes you, say "no thank you" and find a new one. You're paying someone to help you get through a tough time, not to add on to the stress you already have or to make you feel anxious or worse, afraid.
And finally, the "High Horse Hannah":
If your counselor looks down on you or treats you like a child, show her/him you're an adult by being firm but polite when you show them the door (figuratively speaking.) You are a human, and they are a human, and while they may be trained in communication and issue resolution, that doesn't make them better than you. A good therapist's job is to teach you conflict resolution and to listen to your concerns and feelings. They are there to guide you, not to rule you.
If you're in the market for a good therapist,I suggest that you check with a healthcare provider that you trust, or a trusted friend or family member. If you have no luck there, check out this website: