Lots of people shop around for pediatricians or gyms. Some people don’t realize that it is standard to shop around and interview your potential therapist.
Essentially, therapists have different styles. A good fit is important!
Research shows that a good therapeutic match is connected to the outcome.
Most therapists offer a free ten-minute phone consultation.
Make a list beforehand of the questions that you have in mind.
Here is a sample question list:
1. What is your specialty area?
Therapists have specialties. Their specialty is usually determined by the area that they have had the most experience in. It can also be determined by additional training or certifications. For instance, my specialty areas are addiction, trauma, and relationships. These are the areas that I have spent the most time working in. In addition, I have done countless hours of training and research in these areas.
2. Give a brief synopsis of what is bringing you in for therapy. During the interview, it helps to give the clinician a brief summary of what you want to work on. For example:
I want to set better boundaries
I want to work on my symptoms of depression
I want to work on resolving a past trauma/grief
I am dealing with a break up / divorce and need the additional support
I want to work on better coping strategies
I want to work on having better relationships
I want to manage my drinking
I need support during early sobriety
We want to work on managing conflict / or being more connected
Is this the sort of thing that you have experience with?
3. Ask techniques or interventions that the therapist uses. Ask them how they would help you.
This is the same as asking a physical therapist how they treat back pain. Do they use massage, dry needling, etc?
Therapists should be happy to tell you where they went to school, what training they received, their specialties and whether they would be the best person to work with you.
4. Are you an interactive therapist or more neutral?
Some therapists are directive and others are non-directive.
A non-directive therapist will be quieter in session, listening and reflecting back to you. This might be what you are looking for if you need a safe space for processing. Listening, reflecting are powerful tools for growth.
A directive therapist will give more guidance and they may offer more structure. Some therapists give specific help with skill-building and some may even give homework. It helps to know what you are looking for.
5. Ask about fees and insurance/sliding fee scale
Discussing fees is an important part of determining the match. Ask about insurance or whether they offer a sliding fee scale. Some therapists are able to slide their fees down.
6. What is your schedule like?
It is important that your schedule matches your therapist’s schedule. If you need evenings or weekends, it is important to verbalize that upfront. Some therapists have limited schedules. You don’t want scheduling to be a barrier to your progress.
7. Are you virtual / in person?
During covid times, most therapists have gone online. Some therapists are still offering a portion of their services in person. Everyone has a personal preference for what they want.
8. What is the process of making an appointment?
Some therapists have waiting lists and others are able to provide immediate appointments. Therapists who are working virtually will send you intake information and a link to the appointment ahead of time. It is comforting to know ahead of time what the intake process looks like.
Things to notice:
Did you feel comfortable talking with this person?
Did they offer you knowledge?
Is this someone that you think can help you?
Did you feel safe/comfortable talking with this person?