Finding a therapist can be overwhelming, unless you know what to ask.
According to the Center for Disease Control, almost half of Americans will experience a mental health issue at some point in their lives. One in five people in the US are diagnosed with depression, yet most of these individuals will not seek the treatment they need (APA). Although there are likely many reasons why people will not seek treatment, sometimes the process of locating the right therapist for them can be very intimidating and overwhelming.
Whatever reasons you may be seeking help, you deserve to find the provider who is the best fit for you. At Wilson Psychological Associates we want to equip you with the right questions to ask when the time is right.
1. Does the therapist have experience/expertise working with issues like yours?
- Is the therapist licensed by the state board?
- What is their training and background?
- What experience does the therapist have working with my issue(s)?
- Does the therapist training fit your needs and goals? If not, can he/she provide you with a list of referrals of providers who do?
2. Do you find the therapist trustworthy, likable, and compatible?
Just as in any other relationship, the therapeutic alliance is based on trust. It’s very important the therapist be someone you trust, respect, and like. It can be difficult to discern from a picture or online profile whether or not a therapist embodies the characteristics you’re looking for. For this reason, it’s often useful to allow the first couple of sessions to be a time of mutual assessment. Sometimes personalities conflict and that’s ok. However, it’s critical you feel you can find a therapist “who gets you” while also maintaining professional boundaries.
3. What is the therapist’s general approach to treatment?
Different therapists approach the therapeutic relationship in different ways. Some therapists are more goal-oriented while others are more passive. For example, Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) tends to be more direct and collaborative. Therapist’s working from a CBT approach will assist you in identifying treatment goals to be worked towards in treatment. Other approaches such as psychodynamic, may be more non-directive. Neither approach is wrong, but depends largely on the clients needs and personality. Don’t be afraid to ask what theoretical orientation the therapist works from to decide if it will be the best fit for you.
Another very important question to ask is what treatments the therapist uses for specific issue(s). Scientific evidence-based treatments have the best outcome studies and therefore should be used when possible. It’s important to know what is the best treatment for your presenting issue(s) and find a therapist who has specialized training and/or certification in that area.
Are the therapist’s fees/services covered by your insurance?
If the therapist is not in-network with your insurance, will they provide necessary paperwork so you can seek reimbursement?
After the initial intake assessment, ask the therapist what your time commitment will be.
5. Do you think the therapist has the potential to provide the help you’re looking for?
According to research (apa.org), at least a couple of months of weekly sessions are necessary to make headway on most problems. During the first couple of sessions, it’s important to ask yourself whether the therapist has the potential to be helpful to you. You may not be certain after a few sessions, but will likely have an intuition. It is common for therapists to request feedback from a client about how they feel the therapeutic process is going. Even if not asked, feel free to discuss questions and/or concerns with your therapist to ensure you have the best outcome possible.
Remember, you are the consumer and you deserve the highest standard of treatment available to you.