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.

Training

  • What was your training?
  • What qualifications have you been awarded?

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?

Credentials

  • 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?

Professional Orientation

  • How do you describe your professional orientation to therapy?
  • Which of the major schools of psychotherapy are the most attractive to you?

Competence

  • 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?

Business practices

  • 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?

Personal

  • What is your personal experience as a client in psychotherapy?
  • How do you feel it benefited you?

Comfort and Chemistry (questions to ask yourself after the initial meeting)

  • 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 this 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 world?
  • 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?