Tips for Finding a New Therapist

Finding and choosing a therapist is an important decision.  Numerous studies have shown that the most significant factor in a person’s progress in therapy is related to the relationship with the therapist, itself.  Therefore, it’s important that you find someone you are comfortable with, and that it feels like en empowered, informed decision.  Remember, you are hiring the therapist to work for you, and it is okay to take your time and be careful in making your decision.

Most therapists offer a free initial consultation, and this is a great opportunity to meet them in person, and to get a feel for them.  It is also a great opportunity for you to find out about logistical things like fee and schedule, AND about how they might work with you.  Following are suggestions of things to consider, and ask, while making your decision:

Possible Questions to Ask Yourself:

  • Do I feel safe with this person?
  • Do I feel seen and heard?
  • What other qualities feel important for my therapist to have?
  • Does this person seem to have experience and/or training, working with my particular issues?
  • How do I feel around this person?  Is there a connection?

Possible Questions to Ask a Potential Therapist

  • What are your views about therapy?
  • What training, degrees, or experience do you have with situations similar to mine?
  • If concerning a child: How much professional and personal experience do you have working with children?  How much do you work with the parents, if you are counseling a child?
  • How do you feel about working with a _________? (Fill in the blank:  man, woman, transgender, working, unemployed, substance user, etc. – any factor about yourself that feels important)?
  • What are your views on marriage?  Divorce?  Etc.?
  • How do you decide on the fees you charge?  Do you ever make adjustments to fees?  Are you able to take insurance payments?  (if not, ask about how they might be able to meet your co-pay – often therapists can come close, and this gives you, as a consumer, more freedom and control over your care.)
  • Do you diagnose?  What might this mean for me?
  • What is your policy about canceled appointments?
  • What happens if I don’t show up?
  • What are your expectations and beliefs about therapy?
  • How collaborative are you?  To what extent will I be involved in decisions about my therapy?
  • What skills will I have when treatment is completed?
  • How do you/we decide when it is time for therapy to end?  How will I know when I’m finished?
  • If you are out of town, will I have a back-up therapist?
  • What am I not asking, that’s important for me to know about you, or therapy?

* Resourced, with revision, from: WINGS Foundation (2009).  Survivors’ guide to healing, 2nd Edition.  Denver, CO: self-published.

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