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10 Logistical Questions You Should Ask When You’re Choosing a Therapist

Amanda Gregory, LPCP, EMDR Practitioner

It’s important to find a therapist who’s a good match for your personality and needs. The first step in this process is figuring out the logistics: who, what, when, where, how much. This essential information can often be found on agency websites or other online sources, but if you’re unable to find answers to certain questions, you’ll need to ask potential therapists directly.

Here are 10 questions you should ask prospective therapists:

1) Do you offer a free consultation? A consultation is an opportunity to ask questions of a potential therapist. You can often get a sense of their personality during this visit. Consultations are usually brief (10-20 minutes) and are not meant to provide treatment.

2) Are you an in-network provider with my insurance/funding source? The difference in your financial contribution when working with an in-network therapist vs. an out-of-network therapist can be significant.

3) Will you bill my insurance directly? Many agencies will bill your insurance directly, but not all. Some therapists will ask you to pay their full fee and provide you with the paperwork to submit your own insurance claim.

4) Do you offer sliding scale fees? If you do not have a funding source/insurance, choose not to use it, or wish to see a therapist who is an out-of-network provider, you should ask if the therapist provides a sliding scale of discounted rates based on your income. At times, opting to pay a sliding scale fee in full may be less expensive than paying toward a high deductible.

5) What is your availability? Before you choose a therapist, you should determine whether their availability meets your needs. All therapists have different availability. Some may offer evening or weekend appointments, while others may not.

6) Where are you located? This might seem like a no-brainer, but it can get complicated, as some therapists work out of multiple offices. You’ll want to make sure that the therapist you choose will be available at the office location that is convenient for you.

7) What types of services do you provide? Therapists can provide a variety of services, such as individual therapy, couples therapy, financial therapy, and group therapy. Your individual therapist might also provide couples or family therapy as needed, or they might refer you to another therapist if you need additional services.

8) Do you have experience with clients like me? It’s a good idea to ask potential therapists whether they have experience addressing your specific problem or concern. Some examples are depression, anxiety, substance use, trauma, and relationships. You can also ask if they have experience working with people in your community or situation: LGBTQ, immigrants, minorities, and Spanish speakers, to name a few.

9) Do you provide specific interventions or modalities? Each therapist has different specialties. If you’re interested in particular interventions or treatment modalities, you’ll need to ask whether they will be offered. Some examples are Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).

10) Are you available in case of emergencies? Some agencies provide crisis intervention services, which might include same-day appointments or contact with your therapist after hours. Many agencies do not provide crisis intervention services directly but can provide crisis hotline numbers that you can use.

Asking these important logistical questions up front can increase the likelihood that you’ll find a therapist who is a good match for you.

Symmetry Counseling has in-network providers for many health plans, convenient weekend/after-hours appointments, direct insurance billing and a sliding scale, and therapists who provide a variety of services, interventions, and modalities. Contact Symmetry Counseling today to set up a free consultation or to schedule an initial appointment.

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