What questions Should I Ask My Prospective Therapist?
Many individuals are currently struggling with their mental health related to the unprecedented times we are all living in today. Whether it is related to loneliness, depression, isolation, grief, anxiety, depression, or a combination of all of those things, the current state of our country is certainly affecting everyone’s mental health. As an individual embarking in therapy, finding the right therapist is such an important step in starting to feel better or to better manage the symptoms you could be experiencing. Many therapists, myself included, offer a free 20-minute phone consult with clients to help assess if they are the right therapeutic match for each other. I recently read an article from The New York Times that touched on this particular topic, “Questions for your prospective therapist, from your own couch” by author Lilli Carre.
Below are some questions Carre recommends individuals to ask their potential therapist, and also questions I have heard from my own clients during their initial phone consult.
- What are your credentials/professional background? That question gives you a better understanding of the therapist’s background, whether they are a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW) (like myself), a psychologist, a licensed clinical professional counselor (LCPC), or a marriage and family therapist (AMFT). Therapists vary in their training background and education. Keep in mind psychiatrists are medical doctors who can prescribe medication while a therapist provides therapy, and there are several different types of therapy that therapists can specialize in.
- What do you specialize in? This question is very important for potential clients as it allows for the therapist to better describe which type of treatment methods they feel most competent implementing during sessions. For myself, I currently specialize in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Acceptance and Commitment Theory (ACT), and Mindfulness, as I typically work with clients who experience anxiety and/or depression, and those intervention styles are proven to help decrease those symptoms. Some of my Symmetry Counseling colleagues are trauma-informed therapist where they help clients process and reprocess their trauma through EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing). Another popular style is psychodynamic which goes more in-depth into the family dynamic, relationship struggles, and/or grief.
- What type of population do you like working with? This open-ended question allows the therapist to highlight a certain group of people they tend to work well with. As a therapist who has heard that question, I typically respond by gently asking which type of therapist they are looking for. However, the therapist answers, it is important to focus on the way you feel emotionally and physically as that will help give you an insight into whether or not you feel like you have a rapport with them. Keep in mind, when embarking in therapy, it will likely bring up feelings and emotions that you have yet to talk to someone else about. You want to make sure that there is a level of comfort and security when speaking to your therapist during sessions.
- How do I know if therapy is going to work for me? This is a very common question I hear from clients. The short answer is, there is no guarantee as it greatly depends on what you put into your therapeutic goals. I often gently express to clients that the work they do outside of the session is just as important, if not more important, in order to see the positive changes in their life to start occurring. Only a limited amount of work can be done in an hour once a week. Each client is different, so therapy may start to work at different paces. I encourage clients to be patient with themselves and voice to them that when you start to notice having better relationships, solutions to specific problems, and a decrease in feelings of anxiety, stress, depression, that will be when you notice therapy to be working for you!
If you are currently struggling with your mental health, it may be a good idea to connect with one of our skilled counselors in Chicago at Symmetry Counseling today. You can contact them at 312-578-9990, or reach out online, to set up an appointment.
Written by Kara Thompson-Miller, Licensed Clinical Social Worker: January 2023 “Why is it so hard to like my body?”: A unassumingly complex question that has been asked by many clients in many different variations, but one that, nonetheless, tends…Read More
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