Choosing a Therapist
You may find it helpful to ask some of the following questions of your prospective therapist. The therapist may not always answer the question, but you will get a sense of how they respond to you, even if you don’t get a direct answer.
Questions around the therapist’s experience
- How long have you been practicing counselling or psychotherapy?
- Where else have you worked besides your present position?
- What jobs or careers have you had besides being a therapist?
- What non-professional experiences have you had to qualify you for the work you are now doing?
Questions around the therapist’s training
- What was your training?
- What qualifications have you been awarded?
Questions around the therapist’s fitness to practice
- Are you a member of any professional organisations? Which ones?
- Are you Accredited or Registered by any professional therapy associations?
- Have any complaints been filed against you with any professional ethics organisation?
Questions around the therapist meeting your needs
- Have you treated other people with problems similar to mine?
- How do you determine how often we should meet?
- Can you prescribe psychoactive medications if I need them? If not, do you work with a physician or a psychiatrist who can evaluate me and prescribed medication?
- Are you willing to consult with other mental health or medical professionals with whom I have worked?
- Do you consult with other professionals regarding individuals on your caseload?
- How do you safeguard my right to confidentiality in those situations?
- Are you willing or able to see my family members or life partner if that should seem necessary? If so, can or should I be present?
- Will you ever meet with them without my being present?
- Have you ever been sued for malpractice?
- What was the outcome of that lawsuit?
Questions around how the therapist practices
- How do you describe your professional orientation to therapy?
- Which of the major schools of psychotherapy are the most attractive to you?
Questions around money and availability
- What is your fee?
- Is there a sliding scale? If there is a sliding scale, how does it work?
- Are you able to accept medical insurance?
- How do you handle the paperwork?
- Do you or I have to fill out the paperwork?
- What is your telephone availability?
- Do you encourage or discourage telephone contact between meetings?
Questions around the therapist’s personal experience of therapy
- What is your personal experience as a client in psychotherapy?
- How do you feel it benefited you?
Questions to ask yourself after the initial meeting about comfort and chemistry
- Did you feel understood?
- Did the therapist understand your reason for being there?
- Did you feel liked by the therapist?
- Did you like the therapist?
- Did you like his or her values?
- Did you agree with them?
- Did you have an initial feeling of trust in the therapist?
- Did the therapist appear to be sensitive to your feelings?
- Did you feel respected by the therapist?
- Did you feel he or she was treating you as an equal?
- Did you feel comfortable talking to the therapist?
- Were you able to say what you wanted to say?
- Were you able to be yourself?
- Did you feel a need to hide anything?
- Were you honest?
- Did the therapist convey a feeling of personal warmth?
- Did the therapist seem to have a sense of humour?
- Was he or she overly serious?
- Did you get a feeling this person was wise? Knowledgeable?
- Was he or she able to go past theories and understand the nature of the issue?
- Did he or she convey an interest in you and your reasons for being in his or her office?
- Did the therapist make eye contact with you? Was that comfortable for you?
- Did you get any feedback from the therapist? Was it helpful? Insightful?
- Did you come away with any greater understanding of yourself than you had before the first meeting?
- Did you disagree with the therapist at any point? How did that go? Was the therapist defensive or shut down?
- Could he or she disagree with you in a comfortable manner?
- Do you look forward to talking with the therapist again?