5 Questions to Ask When Evaluating A New Therapist

Couples therapy session with a woman therapist

Choosing a therapist is something to put a good deal of thought into as you’ll be investing a good amount of time, money, and effort with this person along your healing journey.

Although there are plenty of choices in your community, it’s important to find a therapist who you feel comfortable being open and honest with and someone you sense is non-judgmental and accepting of you as you are. Finding a therapist to meet those needs, as well as some of the more practical requirements, will make the experience more pleasing and truly therapeutic.

Many therapists are aware of this decision-making process and often offer a complimentary 15-minute interview session to determine if you two are a good fit for one another.

You’ll be able to learn about one another, ask your questions, and test out how a session may be before investing fully in one. If you leave the interview feeling better than when you entered, simply from being in his/her presence, that’s a great sign! If not, allow that signal to guide you to the next one.

When it comes to the questions, we’ve collected some of the most important ones to ask when evaluating a therapist and considering treatment. These should help you narrow down your choices and find someone you are relieved to work with.

Here Are 5 Questions to Ask When Evaluating A Therapist:

  1. What Experience do You Have Working with the Types of Problems I am Experiencing?

Although a therapist will always try to help a patient the best way, he/she can, having the experience of successfully helping other patients, move through the issues you’re facing will surely give you more comfort and belief in your healing.

A therapist who even specializes in the area you need the most help with will be a great resource to provide you with solutions you’d never known before. They will have worked through similar issues on so many levels, with so many other personalities from a wide variety of patients, that they will have developed the awareness to help you see your situation with much greater clarity, outside the realm of what you thought was possible.

  1. What is Your Counseling Philosophy?

You’ll want to learn what their viewpoints are with regard to therapy since there are so many schools of thought. The more you can see eye to eye, the easier and more satisfying treatment will be for both of you. Is their approach to therapy along the lines of psychoanalysis and psychodynamic, behavior, cognitive, and humanistic, or do they take an integrative, holistic approach? A seasoned counselor will know their philosophy well so as you listen, take note of what you agree or disagree with.

You may even find their Philosophy of Counseling on their website. Take notes and ask questions in the interview that further clarify their approach to therapy to see how well you resonate.

  1. What Can I Expect During and Between Sessions?

It’s good to know upfront how much you’ll be expected to commit to, that way there are fewer surprises along the way. Understanding the structure and allowing yourself to be guided through it will create a sense of security in your mind so you can feel safe to delve deeply into your healing journey. The more you can feel at ease along each stage of the process, the easier it will be to face whatever comes up in healing with your full attention.

If it is important for you to keep yourself engaged in between sessions to build momentum towards change, then seek out a therapist with a “homework” plan to offer or the openness to co-create a plan with you. These types of expectations could be the make-or-break factor to help you make your final decision.

  1. What Types of Insurance and Payment Options Do You Offer?

If you have insurance, you may find it helpful to go the route of searching for a specialized provider within the network so you can skip asking about insurance. Whether you have insurance or not, it’s good to find out other payment options, like financing or reduced fees, that you can take advantage of to minimize the financial load.

The point of therapy is to heal, not create additional stress about simple things like paying for treatment.

  1. How Well Do You Feel the Therapist Understands the Issues You Are Seeking to Resolve?

Finding a compatible therapist is easier when you can identify your goals for therapy. One of the main purposes of the initial interview is to see how well they are able to help you reach such goals. When you describe your situation and the thoughts and feelings you’re experiencing, do you feel like the therapist is already familiar with what you’re going through? Do they appear confident in their ability to help you resolve the conflicts you’re facing?

If you get a sense of relief during this part of the conversation with the prospective therapist, it’s a really good sign to move forward, as the solution is there waiting for you.

Asking these five questions and any others you may be wondering about will provide you with the knowledge to choose a therapist who is likely to be quite compatible with you, which gives a greater chance for significant change.

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*Originally published on April 20, 2019.

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