Asking your therapist questions before starting treatment is a good way to gauge whether they may be a good fit in your journey to mental well-being.
Looking for a therapist or mental health professional can be an overwhelming process. You likely want someone who understands your problems and is a good match.
But knowing where to begin or what to ask can be challenging.
Narrowing down what’s essential for you to get out of therapy and having goals of what you want to work on may be a helpful place to start.
But how do you know when it’s a good match? There are ways to vet a therapist, and asking the right questions is key on your journey to mental well-being.
When you consider seeing a therapist, you should consider several factors, from their ability to prescribe medication to the type of therapy they provide.
Here are some things to consider when looking for a therapist:
- What goals do I want to work on?
- What personal qualities do I want my therapist to have?
- What type of therapy may be right for me?
- Is my potential therapist willing to answer my questions?
- Do I want to see my therapist in person or online?
- Does my therapist accept my insurance?
- Do I want my therapist to identify with certain aspects of my identity?
These questions can help you determine what you want out of therapy.
Suppose you’re wondering what to ask a psychologist. In that case, it may be helpful to understand what a psychologist does compared to other mental health professionals, such as psychiatrists, licensed counselors, and social workers.
Psychologists obtain doctorate degrees in psychology, and in five states in the United States, they can prescribe medication.
- provide psychotherapy
- provide psychological assessments or testing
- diagnose and treat mental health conditions
If you want to find a good psychologist, here are some questions you should ask:
1. What types of therapy or treatment do you provide?
Knowing what type of therapy a psychologist provides can help you get the best treatment for the symptoms you’re experiencing.
For example, suppose you’re going to therapy to work on past trauma. In that case, finding a therapist who does trauma-related therapy, such as exposure therapy or eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) therapy, may be helpful.
2. What are your areas of expertise?
This question can also help you narrow down and assess whether the therapist may be a good fit for you.
For example, if you’re going to therapy to seek help for an eating disorder, you may look for a therapist with specialized training and expertise in this area.
3. Have you treated people with similar conditions as mine?
If a therapist has experience in what you’re bringing to therapy, this may be a sign of a good match.
4. How long do you usually see clients? How do you determine my goals?
These two questions are often closely matched. A therapist needs to get a good background of your situation before they can determine a timeframe for therapy.
It’s a good sign that your therapist sets goals with you in a collaborative manner to help you get the most out of treatment. This will determine a timeline for treatment.
5. What does the process of therapy look like?
It’s a good idea to know the standard process of therapy.
Psychotherapy, or talk therapy, usually begins with an intake session to get a background and set goals. After that, each therapist has their own treatment method, which may depend on the type of therapy they provide.
It’s OK to ask a therapist what you should expect out of therapy.
6. Do you see clients in person or through telehealth?
The COVID-19 pandemic drastically changed the method of delivering therapy for many. While many therapists still use telehealth, you may prefer to find someone doing in-person therapy.
Asking this question will help you find the right form of treatment for you.
7. Do you accept my insurance? Are you self-pay? Do you offer a sliding scale?
The American Psychological Association (APA) recommends asking about a therapist’s fees and whether they accept insurance.
These questions help you plan financially for mental health treatment. A therapist offering a sliding scale may allow you to receive therapy services at a more affordable rate.
8. How do you assess my treatment progress?
If you’re new to therapy, you may wonder how you or a therapist will measure progress.
For example, some therapists may use session rating scales to determine progress, and others may collaboratively evaluate your goals and your steps toward your goals.
9. What do you expect out of me outside of a session?
Some therapists expect that you implement strategies or give you homework to complete outside of your sessions. You can prepare for therapy better if you know a therapist’s expectations of you.
Starting therapy can be scary. Asking these questions may help you feel more at ease and better understand what to expect from the process.
Finding a therapist that’s right for you may be challenging, but it’s key in your journey toward mental well-being.
Asking the right questions while searching for a therapist will help you narrow down your choices and find the right match.
If you need help finding a therapist, you can check out Psych Central’s guide to finding mental health support.