Please Note: Due to the current situation with COVID-19, I am offering Telehealth video therapy sessions via a HIPAA-compliant videoconferencing service. If interested, please let me know or click here for more information.
How to Choose a Therapist
If you’ve been in therapy before, you know that it can be a life-changing process. If you haven’t, you may not be sure what to look for in a therapist.
If you’ve decided to seek the help of a professional therapist, the next question becomes “How do I choose a therapist who can best help me?” This question leads to some other important considerations outlined below. However, always bear in mind, the success of your therapy will directly correspond to your compatibility with your therapist.
Questions to Ask Yourself
Before you start calling therapists in your area, ask yourself why you’re looking to work with a therapist. Try to define the issues you’re experiencing in order to effectively communicate your concerns to prospective therapists. Be sure to write these issues down along with what you hope to gain from therapy.
Other questions that may help you choose a therapist include:
- Do you want to work with a therapist who specializes in helping people with the issues you’re experiencing?
- Does the therapist’s cultural background, religion, race, or marital status matter?
- Is it important for the therapist you work with to have raised children?
- Would you feel more comfortable working with a therapist of the same gender?
- How far are you willing to commute for therapy?
- What hours are available to commit to therapy sessions?
Questions to Ask Your Therapist
There are many questions to ask a prospective therapist, some of the more important include:
- What issues do you specialize in?
- What age groups do you work with?
- How long is a typical session?
- How often do you think we’ll need to meet?
- How long do you expect treatment to last?
- What treatment approaches do you use to help clients heal?
- Is there someone I can call if an emergency arises and you’re unavailable?
- Are there any limitations on confidentiality?
Again, these are just some of the more important questions to ask a prospective therapist. You may have others and you should feel comfortable asking any questions you have. You needn’t ask all of these questions in a first session when you’ll need a lot of time to talk yourself. But do be sure to ask these questions and any others you have.
You’ll also need to determine what you can afford to pay for therapy. There are several questions you may want to ask a therapist regarding their fees, such as:
- How much does each session cost?
- What forms of payment do you accept?
- Do you offer reduced fees or a sliding scale based on one’s ability to pay?
- What is your policy regarding vacations and missed or canceled sessions?
- Will my medical insurance cover the cost of therapy?
- How, and how often, do you bill for therapy sessions?
While investing in therapy and your personal happiness is likely to be one of the best investments you’ll ever make, you know better than anyone else what your financial situation is, what you can afford, and what you’re comfortable spending to create positive, lasting change in your life. Make sure you’re comfortable paying for therapy so therapy doesn’t become another source of stress in your life.
To find a therapist that’s right for you, start your search by asking your physician, clergy or other professional service providers you trust for referrals.
You may also ask trusted family members or friends, or you can search the Internet for therapists near you. Just keep in mind, a good ad or Web page doesn’t make a therapist qualified or experienced. Ask the therapist about their qualifications and experience directly, even if you receive a referral from a trusted source.
Once you’ve narrowed your search to a handful of therapists, pick up the phone and give each of them a call. Most therapists offer a brief phone consultation for free in order to answer your questions and see if you might work well together.
As with choosing any service provider, doing some homework and making an informed decision about whom to work with will increase the likelihood that counseling will meet your needs and help you achieve your goals. Don’t be shy or afraid to ask point-blank questions… After all, this is about your future health, well-being and happiness!
I provide my services to the highest ethical standards and my relationships with my clients are strictly confidential. As such, I must inform you that the information provided in this website is offered for informational purposes only; it is not offered as and does not constitute professional advice. Replies to e-mail messages will be general in nature and will not form a therapist-client relationship. Be aware that the confidentiality of information sent over the Internet, including e-mail, may not be legally or otherwise protected or secure.