How do you know if someone is the right therapist? Some people choose therapists by cost, i.e. if the person is covered by insurance. I'm not on any insurance plans, but most of my patients get out-of-plan payments and I have a sliding scale to accommodate people without insurance. But therapists are not washing machines. If you choose a therapist because he or she is on sale, you may not be getting the most experienced person or a therapist who has the ability to help you with your unhappiness.
When people say "trust your gut," that might be a problem if your "gut" is what's been getting you in trouble and/or making you unhappy. So you cannot always trust your gut. It takes a while before you can tell if I am a good fit for you. For example, a lot of my patients have difficulties with boundaries or anger (or both). It will take a while for those issues to emerge in the treatment. I believe that what happens between the therapist and patient in the office is the key to understanding many unconscious dynamics of the patient. I am going to talk about our relationship as well as your relationship with your spouse, friends and boss. Do you want a therapist who is going to tell you when you are breaking boundaries and is not afraid of your anger?
That takes time, so how do you know within a few sessions whether I am a good fit? First and foremost, is a therapist has to be a good listener. Feeling "heard" is one of the most important things in a therapy experience. When you tell me something about yourself, it will be clear from my response that I listened carefully to what you said and can frame it in a helpful way. That may not be evident in the first or second session because I will be listening and trying to understand what you are saying and get some idea about what is bothering you. But in a few sessions time, I will have some things to say. And from that time on, I will always be responding to you.