Questions to Consider When Choosing a Therapist
Hiring a therapist isn’t exactly the same as hiring a photographer or handyman. The quality of the relationship between you and your therapist is one of the most important factors, and predictors of successful therapeutic outcomes. While therapists differ in their personalities and approach, the majority of your work with your therapist will involve them asking you questions. In the beginning of the relationship, you want to be sure you are asking the right questions so that you are best matched with the therapist who is right for you and your needs. Below is an extensive list of questions. You don’t have to ask all of them, but look them over and consider asking whichever ones you feel are important as you conduct your search for your potential treatment provider.
Questions for your potential therapist
- My problem is _______. How would you go about treating that?
- How much experience do you have in treating people like me?
- Could you describe how you would work with a person like me?
- What’s your theoretical orientation?
- What is your approach?
- What methods do you employ?
- Do you give homework or reading to do between sessions?
- Some therapists are more comfortable addressing the immediate problem, while others want to focus on the deeper issue. Which are you?
- Do you tend to lead the session, or follow my lead?
- What are your strengths as a therapist?
- Have you been in therapy?
- What do you think is the goal of the therapy?
- What’s the number of sessions you think we’ll need?
- How often and for how long would you anticipate seeing me? When might you know the answer to this question? How long do you expect it to take before I begin feeling better?
- What’s expected from me?
- How will we assess my progress?
- What is your availability?
- What’s your cancellation policy?
- Do you do phone sessions if I need something at a different time?
- What is your fee?
- Do you take insurance? If they can’t take your insurance, do they have low-fee or sliding-scale options?
- May I include family members in my treatment?
- Will you coordinate my care with other treatment providers, and if so, how?
- Do you recommend any mobile apps to help manage my symptoms?
- What would I have to do to be ready for my first session?
It will also be important to ask yourself the following questions after speaking with your potential therapist candidate, or after meeting for the first couple of sessions with your new therapist. Remember, if you feel that it’s not a good fit, your therapist wants you to let them know. They will help to refer you out to another therapist better suited for your needs. It is, after all, their ethical responsibility to do so!
Questions to ask yourself after speaking with the therapist
- How soon did you feel relaxed when speaking with the therapist?
- Did you feel rushed to ask your questions, or were you able to go at your own pace?
- Did the therapist seem to “get” your questions, or did they misinterpret or need to ask for several clarifications?
- Did you feel like the conversation flowed, or was it clunky and awkward?
- Did you understand the response, or was it filled with technical jargon or vague statements?
- Imagine your deepest, darkest secret — could you imagine telling this person about it?
- Did you feel heard by the therapist?
- Did you feel like the therapist respected you?
- Was the therapist condescending?
- Did the therapist seem like a real person or were they playing a role?
- Was the therapist passive or active in the session? What do you like better?
- Does it seem like the therapist will be open to hearing about all your feelings, including frustrated feelings relating to them?
- Did the therapist have a positive outlook on life?
- Did you feel better or worse after the session?