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How Can a Therapy Consultation Be Helpful for You?

By: Zana Van Der Smissen

Hello, and welcome back to another blog! Today, I am going to be talking through therapy consultations before going into intake sessions and how they can be useful in learning if the therapist you are talking to is a good fit for you and your needs. 

Firstly, what is a therapy consultation? A consultation is something that is offered by some therapists where you can ask any questions you’d like, or get to know the therapist before committing to an intake session. Normally it lasts about 20-30 minutes and allows you to also get some logistical questions out of the way such as, “Do you accept my insurance?;” How much would my copay be?;” How often would I attend therapy?.” Taking all of this into account gives you some perspective on what therapy might look like moving forward.

So, how can a consultation be helpful for you? I have broken it down into three different categories:

  1. Comfort and Safety
  2. Specialty
  3. Therapy Style

Comfort and Safety During Counseling

Being comfortable and safe within the therapy space is one of the most important things to look out for. If we can’t be vulnerable in a space that is meant to be an open and welcoming environment, then it will be more challenging to get to the work that needs to be done in counseling. Comfort and safety can come from different aspects of finding a therapist with a similar background, similar interests, or even who comes from a similar generation. All of these factors are a personal choice and you are absolutely encouraged to share your preferences of what kind of therapist you would like based on race, ethnicity, religion, age, gender, etc. Doing so allows the intake team at practice to match you up with the best fit possible. 

Once this connection is established, a consultation can confirm or help you navigate what you do or don’t want in a therapist. Additionally, safety can also mean whether the therapist offers in-person or telehealth sessions because, at times, we might feel more comfortable talking about our feelings and what is going on in our lives when we are removed from our homes. At the end of the day, talk about comfort and safety during your consultation and ask how the therapist might help to create the best space for you. 

Therapy Specialties and Areas of Practice

Specialty in counseling is something we don’t always think about initially, especially if this is your first therapy experience! Specialty is what a therapist or counselor has niche experience in or knows more about. For example, I have had experience working with clients who are struggling with eating disorders, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t see clients for any other reason. To know what you are wanting out of therapy, brainstorm what you’ve been struggling with lately, or what you would like to improve on. Create a list of a few keywords that come to mind and try to find those words in the therapists’ biographies you find. 

Another way of looking at specialty is seeing what the therapist specializes in when it comes to populations. For instance, maybe you’re looking for a therapist who has experience with LGBTQ+ affirming care or works with young kids or families. There are multiple populations that are covered by all the different therapists out there so feel free to ask questions about the therapist’s experience. 

Therapy Style

The last component that you could learn more about in a consultation is the therapy style. Every therapist will have different ways they do things, whether that means what modality they work from or if they challenge you, you can explore what you might need from your therapist and what you feel has been helpful in the past. Describe your ideal therapist and hopefully, the therapist you are doing the consultation with will check off most of your boxes. 

With those three components in mind, this is only the start of what a consultation can give you answers about. Feel free to ask all the questions necessary to make you feel the most comfortable starting your therapy journey! If you’re ready to schedule a consultation with a therapist in Chicago, then contact Symmetry Counseling today! You can explore our therapy services online, read therapist bios, and schedule your appointment to get matched with the right counselor for you!

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