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Checking In: Four Questions to Ask Your Therapist

Amanda Gregory, LCPC, EMDR Practitioner

If you’re participating in therapy, it’s a good idea to check in with your therapist from time to time about how it’s going. Check-ins can provide you with valuable feedback about your progress, treatment planning, and time frames, all of which can help you to make informed decisions about your treatment.

Many people expect their therapists to initiate check-ins, but therapists do not always know when their clients need an update. As the client, you should feel free to initiate check-ins as frequently as you wish. Here are some questions you can ask to get the conversation started:

1) What am I working on? Therapy is a complex process, and your needs can change quickly. Some therapists ask their clients to define their goals at the start of therapy, but it’s easy to lose sight of them or to shift the focus to more immediate needs. Asking your therapist to review what you’re working on can initiate a discussion about your goals. You may need to revise your goals or set new goals in order to meet your needs. For example, I had a client who came to therapy to address her fear of spiders. Two months later, we were talking less about spiders and more about her relationships. During a check-in, she reported that her fear of spiders was still present but more manageable, and she decided to revise her goals to focus on improving her relationships. If this check-in had never occurred, I might have continued to initiate discussions about spiders—which wasn’t what she needed anymore.

2) How am I doing? It’s important to know whether your therapist feels that you are making progress in therapy. Sometimes it’s hard to gauge our own progress and we need feedback from someone else. If you’re making progress, this is a good time to celebrate your success. If you are not progressing, this is an opportunity to identify any obstacles that may be standing in your way. You might also want to ask your therapist to recommend things you could do to improve your progress.

3) Could we do something different? If you feel that you’re not benefiting from the interventions that your therapist is providing, it’s important to say so. The therapist might be trained in other types of interventions or might be able to refer you to another therapist who can provide what you need. If you are interested in a specific intervention, such as Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), you should mention it. Also, it’s important to inform your therapist if you’re interested in additional services, such as financial therapy, discernment counseling, and psychological testing.

4) Should I continue therapy? This is a question that clients tend to avoid, but it’s reasonable to ask. Initially, your therapist can recommend that you participate in therapy, but this recommendation can change over time. Most therapists encourage clients to end therapy when it’s no longer needed. If you and your therapist feel that you no longer need therapy, you can work together to create a discharge plan. Some clients find it helpful to phase out of therapy by attending twice a month, then once a month, and then eventually stopping. You can also discuss options to return to therapy in the future if you need to.

Checking in periodically with your therapist can help to guide your decisions so you can get the most out of your experience in therapy.
If you’re considering starting therapy or transferring to a new therapist, contact Symmetry Counseling today at 312-578-9990 to schedule an appointment.

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