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How to Find Your Perfect Therapist | 9 Questions to Ask

How to Find Your Perfect Therapist | 9 Questions to Ask

Table of Contents

Summary

f you're reading this, you’ve probably made the decision to see a therapist. Congratulations! That is a huge step in helping yourself. You may have already tried looking for a therapist and found that there are A LOT of options and different things to consider when trying to find the right one for you.

Seeking Therapy

If you’re reading this, you’ve probably made the decision to see a therapist. Congratulations! That is a huge step in helping yourself. You may have already tried looking for a therapist and found that there are A LOT of options and different things to consider when trying to find the right one for you. It’s OK to take some time to think about what you need from a therapist. In fact, having a good working relationship with your future therapist can help you have more favorable outcomes in therapy (Bohmer & Kruger, 2019).

Some people see therapists to cope with increased feelings of anxiety since starting college, others are coping with loss, and some are hoping to work through childhood trauma. Any reason is an OK reason to see a therapist. Knowing what you hope to work on in therapy will help you to identify a good therapist who is more knowledgeable about your situation. 

How Much Time/Money Do I Have For Therapy? 

How Much Time/Money Do I Have For Therapy? 

Thinking about this ahead of time will help you find a therapist who fits your needs but also your financial and time limits. When it comes to therapy, there are some different options to paying for it. Some questions to ask yourself:  

  • Check with your school: Make a call to your school’s counseling or wellbeing center to find out what services they offer. Does your school offer free sessions? If so, how many?
  • Check with your insurance provider: How many sessions does your insurance offer? Is there an insurance copay (payment you make after your insurance pays) for each session? It is a good idea to call your insurance and ask what your plan covers.
  • Check with local clinics regarding discounts or “sliding scale” fees: Sliding scale means that clinics/clinicians offer therapy on a payment scale that you can afford, based on your income (even if that income is $0 because you’re in school). Clinicians offering sliding scale options differ in each locale, so it is good to do an internet search or ask your school’s counseling and wellbeing center for assistance. 

Do I Have Therapist Preferences? 

Meaning, do you have preferences for the gender of your therapist, someone who shares your racial and/or cultural background, someone who has experience with your needs? These are all attributes that are OK to search for in a therapist. Therapy involves opening up, regarding sometimes difficult topics or experiences, and finding someone who makes you feel safe and understood is important. 

Questions To Ask a Therapist

Questions To Ask a Therapist

So, you’ve found a couple of therapists who you are interested in. You can ask some questions to continue to see if these therapists are the right fit for you. Some information could be found on their website or by calling and asking before making an appointment. 

What areas of mental health do they specialize in? What organizations/credentials do they belong to? Do they have extended training and/or experience in an area that addresses the reason you are interested in seeking help? These could be topics from anxiety and depression to dealing with specific types of trauma or groups (veterans, college students, etc.). 

What is their multicultural competency? What experience and/or training do they have treating clients with experiences, racial/cultural backgrounds like yours?

What happens during a typical session? How many sessions would you have?

What is the cost of a session? What insurance do they take? Do they offer discounts or a sliding scale?

What are their hours and availability? Some therapists offer weekend or evening appointments and some offer virtual appointments. 

Questions To Ask Yourself After The First Few Sessions

Questions To Ask Yourself After The First Few Sessions

Now that you have a therapist, the first session typically focuses on gathering information about you! This may involve questionnaires beforehand and different personal questions during the first session. This may feel somewhat awkward at first or even a little difficult, but it’s to help the therapist get to know you and for you to get to know your therapist. Some questions to ask yourself after the first few sessions:

  • Do I feel listened to and supported?
  • Do I feel that my issues are being challenged, so I can grow?
  • Is my therapist setting good boundaries for our relationship?
  • Do I feel that this therapist is aware of and understanding my gender/racial/cultural background?
What If I Don’t Feel This Therapist Is a Good Fit For Me?

What If I Don’t Feel This Therapist Is a Good Fit For Me?

Therapy brings up a lot of different emotions, and it’s your therapist’s role, sometimes, to challenge these thoughts, which may leave you feeling sad or frustrated. However, if you do feel that the relationship is not a good fit, there are things to do to help. 

Try talking to your therapist: Sometimes, talking about your concerns with your relationship with the therapist can help to resolve the issues.

Ask for a different approach: Therapists use a lot of different techniques, and they are not one-size-fits-all. Maybe a different therapeutic technique would be better for you, and that is okay!

Seek a different therapist: If you feel your issues cannot be resolved, it is totally okay to go back to your search and find a different therapist. 

Scholarly Sources

American Psychological Association. (2017, July). How do I find a good therapist? Clinical practice guideline for the treatment of posttraumatic stress disorder. https://www.apa.org/ptsd-guideline/patients-and-families/finding-good-therapist

Böhmer, M. W., & Krüger, C. (2019). Therapeutic relationships and the problem of containment: Experiences of patients at a psychiatric training hospital. South African Journal of Psychiatry, 25(0), 1246. https://doi.org/10.4102/sajpsychiatry.v25i0.1246 

National Alliance on Mental Illness. (2020, April). Types of mental health professionals. https://www.nami.org/About-Mental-Illness/Treatments/Types-of-Mental-Health-Professionals

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