By Kathryn Millán, MA, LPC/MHSP
So, you’ve decided to look for a therapist, counselor or psychologist. Congratulations! The fact that you’re considering this possibility means you have taken a first step toward self-care that will help both you and your loved ones.
Therapy is not what it was many years ago. Modern treatment offers a comfortable, safe place for you to learn more about yourself and make a plan for better relationships and a better future.
Don’t just think about finding a therapist — know your options! Did you know that one in five adults in the US has a diagnosable mental health condition, yet up to 56 percent of those people don’t receive treatment?1 And not everyone who seeks therapy has a mental health diagnosis. Many people seek therapy when they want to achieve new goals or adjust to life changes.
Every year, hundreds of thousands of Americans do benefit from the support of mental health professionals, whether they hope to treat an emotional condition, cope with life experiences or simply reach their greater goals. Therapy is an investment in yourself and your future, and it should be an enjoyable process that helps you move forward with a clear mind toward a brighter tomorrow.
Questions to Ask a Potential Therapist
If you are confident in your choice of therapist, you will feel better about the entire treatment process. When you first speak with a potential clinician or treatment group, have a handy list of questions prepared. Here are some suggested questions you may want to ask your next therapist:
- Is your therapist fully licensed in the state where you live? How long has that person been in the field? If he or she is not licensed, who is their supervisor? Clinicians often work under the guidance of a licensed supervisor while they work to fulfill their state licensure requirements, which can be a benefit or a disadvantage, depending on what you need.
- What is your clinician’s specialty? For instance, if you have an addiction concern, you may want to seek out an addiction and recovery specialist. If you have a child who needs therapy, you will want someone who has experience working with children. People who specialize in a few areas or one area are more likely to have a thorough grasp of particular related needs.
- What is your clinician’s approach to treatment? Ask your potential therapist how he or she approaches the therapy process. See how you feel about that approach. Only you know what will work with your personality and what will not.
- Ask your potential therapist if he or she has ever been in therapy. You want to see if your therapist has done the internal, personal work it takes to do this job. If your therapist has never been to counseling before, you want to immediately find a new therapist. Mental health work requires support, self-examination and a healthy mental outlook. All therapists should go to therapy.
- Ask about the practical issues. Does this clinician accept insurance? What are payment arrangements? Is he or she accepting new clients? These practical issues are important to ask, so no financial surprises pop up later on.3
You do have choices when it comes to your mental health. As an informed consumer, you’ll be able to get a feel for what works best for you. Remember, there are no wrong questions. The important thing is to seek support when you need it and take advantage of the helpful resources that are all around you.
1 Nguyen, Theresa, et. al. “The State of Mental Health in America.” Mental Health America, 2017.
2 Cleantis, Tracy. ““How to Find the Best Therapist for You.” Psychology Today, February 16, 2011.
3 “Choosing a Therapist.” Anxiety and Depression Association of America, Accessed February 22, 2018.Share