February 19, 2024

Does Your Therapist’s Gender Matter?

Author: Maddie Mayhew

Making the decision to explore therapy takes a lot of strength and is something to be proud of. Some people may be intimidated by the process of researching the best therapist for them. One common question people have when looking for the right therapist for them is if the gender of their therapist matters.

From a clinical effectiveness perspective, the short answer is: no, it doesn’t matter. Clients are often shocked to learn that neither the age nor gender of either the therapist or client plays a role in the effectiveness of the therapy. What does matter when looking for effective therapy is the therapeutic alliance. 

What is the therapeutic alliance? This refers to the relationship built between the client and therapist that fosters empathy, acceptance, and mutual respect. As with any other relationship, these factors can take some time to build, and usually the first several sessions are focused on getting to know each other, the client’s needs, and building a strong therapeutic alliance. Once a safe and trusting relationship between client and therapist is built, then the real magic of therapy can begin. 

With this being said, it is important for potential clients to pick a therapist that fits their needs. Some clients have a strong preference for their therapist to identify with a certain gender or be a certain age, but it is important to remember that those demographics do not predict effectiveness of therapy. In order for therapy to be successful, it is mostly important that the client and therapist are able to form a strong bond. 

Some people get lucky and click with their first therapist they begin treatment with. For others, it takes several tries to find the provider that works best for them. The important questions to ask yourself when searching for your therapist are “Do I feel heard?”, “Does my therapist seem engaged in helping me heal?”, and “Does this therapist help me understand myself better?”. Try to challenge stereotypes when picking the right therapist for you.



Pfeiffer, E., Ormhaug, S. M., Tutus, D., Holt, T., Rosner, R., Wentzel Larsen, T., & Jensen, T. K. (2020). Does the therapist matter? Therapist characteristics and their relation to outcome in trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy for children and adolescents. European Journal of Psychotraumatology, 11(1), 9. https://doi.org/10.1080/20008198.2020.1776048

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