Be Ahead Of The Game With These Superior Questions To Ask A Therapist
I know from personal experiences that starting or starting over in therapy is challenging. Starting treatment takes a lot of courage! You have addressed that you need help and that finding the right person is scary. Sometimes you can not help that you have to start over because your Therapist leaves a practice, no longer accepts your insurance, or you have stopped treatment and need to start over. Therapy is a journey, and you want the person guiding you to be a good fit with you. Don’t be embarrassed or shy to ask them questions. They are trained professionals; honestly, if they don’t want you to ask them questions, you might not want to see that person.
Best to start with the basics. Finding the most suitable Therapist for yourself would be terrible to find out they don’t take your insurance or cost too much. Here is a list of essential questions you will want to have answered first
- Financial and insurance questions
- How are cancellations or missed appointments handled?
- What outside resources are available?
- How do you see patients?
It would be best if you always addressed financial questions right away. This would include doing you take my insurance. Are there additional costs? Do you charge if my session goes over the allotted time?
How are cancellations or missed appointments handled? Do you charge if I cancel an appointment? If so, how much? How much notice is required for me to cancel?
What outside resources are available? If I have a crisis outside of my sessions, are other resources available to me? Do you have an answering service? Can I message you? Do you take emergency calls? Are you affiliated with a hotline?
How do you see patients? Are the visits available online, in the office, or both?
- How long have you been providing therapy?
- Are you still under supervision?
- Have you ever had therapy?
- How many clients have you had with similar circumstances to my own?
- How often do you seek peer consultation?
- Are you religious? How does this affect your approach to therapy?”
- Do political views change how you provide therapy?
- Can you describe your ideal patient?
You will want to find a therapist that you will be comfortable with. You will be sharing your life with this person. If you are not satisfied, it will not work out. You need to find out some information about their education and personal views, especially if there are things essential to you. In my case, I asked my Therapist if she believed in God. Why? Because I do and talk about that in my sessions, I pray or communicate with my pastors. I wanted someone that at the least believed there is a God so I could comfortably share these things. If you are very much into politics, you will want to know if this person is too. You may be a democrat or republican, and they are the opposite, even if it matters.
Education and time being a therapist were essential to me also. I feel my case is not typical, and I wanted an established therapist that had been at it for a while. I also inquired if she had a client with similar issues as mine. I asked this because I wanted her to know how to help me, and honestly, I didn’t want to be the first person she saw with my situation. Asking about an ideal patient is very important too. You will want to know what expectations they have from you. If they were to say, “I want my patient to take medication,” which is not your goal, or you are not comfortable with that, you would want to know upfront.
Questions About the Sessions
- What is a typical session like?
- What is your general philosophy and approach to helping?
- Do you or I guide the session?
- What kind of homework/reading do you give patients?
- How do you determine when counseling should end?
If you have gotten this far, things are going well, but you still what to know what the therapy session will be like. I want to see if I need to do all the talking and if someone is just going to sit there and nod every once in a while or if they are going to talk the whole session and hardly let me say a word. Both of these situations are not right! I would not be comfortable with either. You are asking how they will help you will give you an idea of the services you will receive. When I asked my Therapist this question, she replied by saying that she would get to know me and my situation first and then help by making suggestions and that we would mutually understand everything and make decisions about my care together. If your Therapist wants you to read books and you don’t like that, it will not be helpful. Some Therapists ask you to work on something between the time you are apart. You really want to do your homework, which is a goal you need to achieve for better mental health.
I did not ask my Therapist how our sessions would end until today. Today, while writing this article, I had a therapy session in the middle of research and writing. I had the outline done, so I knew this question was necessary. To be truthful, I really needed to know because a therapist I had before was abruptly taken from me when the owner sold and closed the practice. (side note, that was seriously traumatic) As soon as my session started, I explained that I needed to ask how she would know our time was over. She said the goal is for you not to need therapy. She would know based on the answers to my questions that I take before each appointment, based on how I was improving, and that it, too, would always be a mutual understanding. She would not say, “Ok, we are done.” It would taper off. For example, the frequency would get farther and farther apart, from once a week to twice a week, to once a month to every other month, until I was comfortable. I was delighted with her response! I do understnad that you don’t want therapy forever, but when you need help, you want it to be available.
I hope this post alleviated some of your anxiety about finding the perfect Therapist for you. It is a considerable step to look for help, and it takes a lot of courage to do that. I am proud of anyone who takes that step or thinks of taking it. It is so beneficial to have a licensed professional helping you deal with and cope with your situations.
For more topics to talk to your therapist about, keep checking back here! I will cover that in the near future. In the meantime, check out my post Why, How, and What to Journal
You can also look at ThriveWorks post 7 Professional Tips to Help You Prepare for Your First Counseling Session
Please share my post to help other people who might be looking for a therapist.
Tell me about your Therapist in the comments! I have had great therapists (like the one I have now!) and some that honestly needed a different line of work! If that’s the case, use these questions to find a new one!!!