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When Your Therapist is Younger Than You Are

3 potential benefits of seeing a therapist from a different generation.

Key points

  • Many therapy clients prefer therapists who share similar demographics, including age.
  • Yet seeing a psychotherapist who is younger or older than you can offer unique benefits.
  • Therapist performance does not always improve with age.

It's an elephant I became accustomed to early in my career as a mental health professional. Standing just 5'2" and fresh out of school, I knew that when I met with adult clients, they would often have some years of life experience on me. I accepted it, honored their wisdom, and hoped I could offer something. As encouraged, I processed my worries in supervision.

What we look for in a therapist varies widely. Often, people wish to find someone who is relatable. At times, demographics come into play. A qualitative study of 47 people of color found that the majority surveyed preferred a therapist of the same race and ethnicity (Moore et al., 2023). This can be appreciated; it's one thing to read about something, but another to live it. Having some shared background can hold meaning.

When it comes to the accumulation of life experiences and relatability, it can be understandable that someone may wish for a therapist of a similar age or older. Similarly, adolescent and young adult clients may wish to speak to an early career therapist who has more recently gone through the life stages they are walking through.

Ultimately, seeing a therapist of a different age than you can have some benefits, including these three:

1. Generational Knowledge

Each generation has brought with it different cultures and lessons. This can ignite unique perspectives. A psychotherapist from an earlier or later generation may offer some unshared wisdom, be it more modern slang or how people survived The Great Depression.

2. Different Styles

Therapists of any age may practice any number of psychotherapy styles. Still, specific therapy modalities have been more or less common in different periods. For example, while brainspotting may not have existed when some senior therapists began practicing, they may have walked through the introduction of cognitive behavioral therapy or seen the stark evolution in addiction interventions.

3. Finding Out That Stereotypes Don't Always Hold True

If you find a psychotherapist who seems to be a match but is not in the age range you imagined, it may still be worth meeting with them. While some might be hesitant to see a younger psychotherapist, research does not suggest that therapist outcomes significantly improve with age (Goldberg).

In the same breath, someone who may be a more senior clinician might be quite relatable, even to someone significantly younger. Without a chance to meet them, there is no way of knowing.

In Closing

Choosing a therapist is a highly personal decision. Still, there are benefits to keeping an open mind when it comes to age preferences. We can all learn something from each other.


Goldberg, S. B., Rousmaniere, T., Miller, S. D., Whipple, J., Nielsen, S. L., Hoyt, W. T., & Wampold, B. E. (2016). Do psychotherapists improve with time and experience? A longitudinal analysis of outcomes in a clinical setting. Journal of counseling psychology, 63(1), 1.

Moore, C., Coates, E., Watson, A. R., de Heer, R., McLeod, A., & Prudhomme, A. (2023). “It’s important to work with people that look like me”: black patients’ preferences for patient-provider race concordance. Journal of racial and ethnic health disparities, 10(5), 2552-2564.

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