6 questions to ask your new therapist

If you haven't been in therapy before, and you're trying to choose a therapist from a big list, it can be overwhelming. Where should you begin?

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The truth is, the success of your therapy depends partly on how well you get along with your therapist. So, here are 6 questions to help you figure out if you connect well with a therapist and to assist you in making a decision.

1. How much experience and training do you have?

Therapists can have different levels of experience and training. This can range from being a student in training to being a qualified therapist with different types of certifications or degrees.

If a therapist is accredited by a governing body for counselling or psychotherapy, it means they have undergone extensive training, and supervised experience, and have also received therapy themselves. Sometimes, the cost you pay for therapy can reflect the therapist's level of experience, but not always.

It's important to think about how much this matters to you and how you feel about your therapist's answer to this question. At the very least, be on the lookout for your therapist receiving regular clinical supervision. This is an ethical requirement for therapists and helps protect you against inexperienced or harmful practices.

2. What do you specialise in, or work with frequently?

Many therapists have a wide range of things they can help with, but some focus on specific areas. It's helpful to make a list of what you want to talk about. Then, ask the therapist if they work with those issues and how well they can help you with them.

If you're not sure where to start, you can look at different concerns on the Counselling Directory's website under "What's worrying you?

Consider if you would prefer to work with a man, a woman, someone older, someone younger, or someone who has similar life experiences, cultural background, sexual orientation, religion, or abilities.

Whichever you choose, make sure the therapist is confident in working with what you're interested in or concerned about.

3. How do you work?

Therapists can work in different ways. Some might give you direction and challenge you, while others will make room for you to talk and think. Some may focus on goals and follow a structured plan, while others will dig deeper to the root of things.

  • Think about how much guidance you need. Do you want someone to listen to you, or do you want someone to challenge you directly? It’s worth asking which way your therapist leans.
  • What are your goals for therapy? How will you know if you've achieved those goals? This is also something you can discuss with your potential new therapist.
  • Will you have homework, exercises, or reading to do outside of therapy? 
  • Will there be any physical activities or inner child work?
  • You can also ask about the first therapy session to get an idea of how the rest of the therapy will be.

4. What were your reasons for becoming a therapist?

It's important for you and your therapist to have similar values, just like in any personal relationship. This question helps you understand who your therapist is as a person. If you feel connected to what they say, it's a good sign. On the other hand, if their answer doesn't relate to you at all, it might mean they're not the right fit for you.

5. Is there anything I can do to help the process?

Asking this question lets your therapist explain what therapy will be like and what you can expect. It also tells you how to get the most out of therapy. If you don't want to do what the therapist asks, it might be better to find a different therapist. 

6. Practical matters

Before starting therapy, it's important to make sure you and your therapist agree on some practical details. These questions can help you decide:

  • When are you available?
  • How often and for how long will the therapy sessions be?
  • How much does it cost?
  • Will the sessions be online or in person? Is the office soundproof and private? Will others be in the building?
  • Do you accept insurance?
  • What is the cancellation policy?

Final thoughts

In relationships with friends and family, it can be challenging to openly share your feelings without holding back. If you don't feel comfortable with the first therapist you meet, you can say no. It's important to feel safe in order to honestly speak your mind. This relationship could have a meaningful impact on your life. So it's important to take care with this decision.

These are questions that I welcome being asked. So if you’d like to learn more about how we can work together, get in touch by clicking the ‘email me’ button below.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Counselling Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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Bristol, Somerset, BS4 2DS
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Written by Shelley Treacher, Therapy for anxiety, depression & relationship difficulties.
Bristol, Somerset, BS4 2DS

Shelley is a specialist in body psychotherapy, and in working with:

Persistent anxiety
Low self-confidence
Comfort or binge-eating
Toxic relationship patterns
Bereavement

Text or email first, then we can set you up with an introductory session.

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