In last week’s blog, we discussed the differences between mental healthcare professionals. This week, inspired by a question left on that blog, I am going to cover vital questions to ask a prospective therapist before you decide to work together.
For some people, seeking professional mental health will bring up preconceived or downloaded ideas. If your family revered doctors as god-like or they were overly concerned about keeping up a “pulled together” appearance, this could get in the way of you not only seeking therapy as an option but also finding a therapist who is right for you. Being intimidated or too embarrassed to be honest about your issues blocks your ability to authentically connect with a therapist.
Before reaching out to a helping professional, please keep this in mind: Therapy is a service. The only way for you to find the right fit is to be honest and know you are the customer. Not every therapist will be appropriate for you. (Just as you prefer certain clothing lines, hair dressers, exercise modalities, doctors, accountants, etc., you’ll prefer a particular therapist.) As with anything, style, skill, and personalities all play a part.
Most therapists will offer a free consultation either on the phone or in person to answer your questions about their practice and theoretical background. I am an LCSW (Licensed Clinical Social Worker), which means I have my Master’s Degree, have had supervised clinical work experience, and have passed a national certified licensing exam. This advanced professional credential allows me to receive healthcare insurance reimbursements. I always offer a free consultation as much for the client as for myself. Any good therapist will happily refer a potential client to a different therapist if they do not think they are the best fit for you. It should be a two-way street.
When “interviewing” therapists, here are some questions to help you (and the therapist) see if you’re a match:
1. What is your specialty? It’s important to know what a therapist has the most experience and training in. Be wary of therapists who claim to be an expert at everything.
2. How many people have you seen with the same problem/issue as mine? It is in your best interest to find a therapist who has a history of treating same or similar disorders.
3. What is your treatment philosophy? How comfortable you feel with the therapist is more important than most other factors. Different therapists have different approaches, so it is important to find one whose approach you understand and resonates with your personality. There are more treatment modalities than the typical you lay on the couch while the therapist takes notes. Cognitive behavioral, self-psychology, and psychoanalytic are some of the more common types. A simple Google search of “types of therapy” can offer explanations for you to discover what will work depending on your needs.
4. What do you charge? Price is always something to know upfront. Do they submit your sessions to your insurance company? Are you responsible to pay upfront and wait for reimbursement, or does the insurance company pay the therapist with you only being responsible for a co-pay amount? Does the therapist even accept insurance, or is the cost 100% your responsibility?
6. What are your credentials? Is the therapist a counseling psychologist, clinical psychologist, psychiatrist, social worker, or marital and family therapist? You can refer back to last week’s post for an explanation.
Trust how you feel when you are interviewing the therapist. Take the time to tune into how your body reacts to them. If you feel uneasy by anything they say or the way they say it, trust your gut and keep looking.
“If everyone could learn that what is right for me does not make it right for anyone else, the world would be a much happier place.”
William Glasser, M.D., founder of Choice Therapy
Finding the right clinician takes work, but the pay off is worth it, and so are you.
I would love to hear your thoughts and answer any questions you may have, so please speak up!
I hope you have an amazing week, taking bold steps toward your dreams, and, as always, take care of you.
Love Love Love
Terri Cole, founder and CEO of Live Fearless and Free, is a licensed psychotherapist, transformation coach, and an expert at turning fear into freedom. A cornerstone of Terri’s practice, meditation, was the impetus for her recently released guided mediation CD Meditation Transformation. Terri can be found on Facebook and Twitter.