"I'm a little biased here, but I think you should go with someone has had to go through the process of therapy," says Jayne Bloch, a psychoanalyst and member of the National Psychological Association for Psychoanalysis Institute in New York City. "You're taking this journey to places unknown; it helps to go with someone who's been there before."
Some patients, like John Head, of Berkeley, Calif., luck out. "I chose a therapist the wrong way, based on who was closest to where I live. I didn't ask any questions about methods, training, philosophy. But as it turns out, I got someone very good."
Shared goals matter
While it may be impossible to avoid such experiences, agreeing on goals and a timeline in the very first session can help.