Look for Experience and Licensing

Hands down, the No. 1 thing you should be looking for in your therapist is proper licensing and credentials. You can go to professional organizations, like the Association for Addiction Professionals, to find counselors and therapists who not only have the credentials, but also have the experience of working with recovering addicts. Experience is the next most important factor in choosing your therapist. You want someone who specializes in and is experienced with addiction. This is the professional who is most qualified to help you.

Ask Questions

You are not obliged to work with the first counselor or therapist you meet. Feel free to treat each initial session like an interview. Ask questions that are important to you and if you don’t like the answers, or if the therapist is unwilling to answer your questions, move on to the next one. You should feel open and able to ask any questions, although if they are too personal, your therapist reserves the right not to answer. Here are some important questions any therapist should feel comfortable answering:

  • Are you a recovering addict or do you have addiction in your family?
  • How much experience do you have working with addicts?
  • Will you judge me on the bad things I did while an addict?
  • Will you let me talk about what I want to talk about?
  • What is your philosophy of addiction and addiction treatment?
  • What kinds of therapy techniques do you use?

Trust Your Gut

You can do all your homework, check on licensing, read up on a therapist’s background and professional experience and ask several questions, but no amount of scrutiny should overrule your gut feeling. When you meet a therapist, ask yourself if you feel comfortable, if you feel like you can open up to this person and if you feel as if he or she can really help you. If something doesn’t feel right, or you just don’t feel comfortable with a therapist but can’t put your finger on why, move on to the next one. A good therapist will understand this and won’t take offense.

Don’t Be Afraid to Fire Your Therapist

You find your therapist, you feel comfortable with her level of expertise, and she seems open and ready to help you. You go through several sessions with her, but eventually come to realize that the relationship isn’t working out. You have no obligation to stay with a therapist if you don’t want to. Never be afraid to leave your therapist, no matter how long you’ve been with her.

You may have a concrete reason to stop sessions or just a feeling that the sessions aren’t pushing you or helping you to feel better. Whatever your reason, you have every right to stop sessions. When you do find the right addiction counselor or therapist, you will start to heal and you will see noticeable changes in your life. You will learn how to cope with being sober and with cravings. If you put in the time and effort, you can find the professional to help you get there.


Choose a better life. Choose recovery.