How to Interview Your Potential Therapist: 5 Questions to Consider
Choosing the right therapist is one of the most important steps that you can take on your mental health journey. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought about a drastic change in methods of therapy delivery, and in addition, it seems that there are innumerable therapists to pick from! According to The New Yorker, “COVID-19 has correlated with soaring rates of depression and anxiety, especially among young people.” In addition, The Wall Street Journal reports that “U.S. government data shows the number of mental-health counselors increased 19% and the number of marriage and family therapists grew 37% between 2011 and 2017, according to the latest data available.” With the rise in mental health crises and, for many, with the convenience of working from home, you can talk to a therapist online through portals like Telehealth, Teladoc, and Telemedicine. With so many choices, it can be hard to determine which may be right for you.
#1 How Long Have You Been Practicing?
Many talented therapists are still working to get their licenses. Keep in mind that just because someone doesn’t have years of experience, it doesn’t mean they aren’t right for you. One way they get their license is by logging a certain number of hours with patients. But depending on the reason you are going to therapy, it may be good to stick with someone who has been practicing for a longer time. A good rule of thumb is to find a therapist who has at least three years of clinical experience.
#2 What Treatment Modalities Do You Specialize In?
A treatment modality refers to the type or method of treatment. Asking the therapist what treatment modalities they specialize in is something to consider. Depending on what you’re going to therapy for, you may benefit from one treatment modality from another. The three major types of psychotherapy are cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), and acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT). Talk to the therapist about what they recommend for you and your condition.
#3 How Much Will This Cost?
There are five factors to consider with this question:
#1 session length
#2 out-of-pocket expense,
#3 insurance coverage
#4 financial assistance
#5 session frequency
It is common that therapists only offer 45-minute sessions, while others offer 90-minute sessions. The out-of-pocket cost, or amount each session costs without insurance factored in, varies greatly between therapists. The cost is dependent upon the therapist’s degrees and years of experience if they are a private practice or part of a group, and if they have any special certifications. More often than not, if your therapist is covered by your insurance, it will be cheaper than paying out of pocket. Finding out if your therapist is covered by your insurance is important. Often therapists will offer financial assistance through predetermined payment plans or a sliding scale pay rate. The number of sessions you attend per week will also play into the overall cost of therapy.
#4 How Often Can I Expect to Hear From You Outside of Session?
Like all relationships, when it comes to your relationship with your therapist, expectations are everything. The level you hear from your therapist outside of sessions is dependent upon the person. Some mental health providers offer phone coaching services, where you can call or text your therapist between a set range of hours. Other therapists have a strict rule that you do not communicate with them outside of the session. Some therapists are willing to answer sporadic questions you may have via email, while others may ask that you wait to address your question in session. Depending on what you’re going to therapy before, you may want to consider how much you want access to your therapist outside of the office. Whatever is determined between you and your therapist, make sure that you adhere to their guidelines and maintain appropriate and professional boundaries.
#5 Could You Describe Your “Ideal Patient”?
This may seem like an odd question, but it can help you determine if you and your therapist are a right fit for each other. Believe it or not, all therapists may not be right for you or offer the services you require. Some professionals may be interested in certain issues, discussions, or mental health topics. Others may specialize in more specific disorders, addictions, or mental illnesses.
This question will also help you gauge how much communication matters to your therapist, and what kind of communication you can expect to receive from them. You can also outright ask your potential therapist, “What’s your communication style?”
Here are additional questions you may want to ask your potential therapist:
- What licenses and certifications do you hold?
- What kinds of topics or issues do you specialize in or address?
- What do you expect from me as a patient?
Below are factors to consider when narrowing down your choices:
- Read patient reviews online
- Read the therapist’s Psychology Today profile
- Consider your insurance
Finding a therapist can be incredibly difficult given all the options these days, but finding a therapist doesn’t have to be impossible. Consider discussing these questions with your potential therapist before you schedule your first session. Make sure that you and your therapist are on the same page. You must be clear about your intentions and expectations with your therapist before going to therapy. We offer a variety of mental health services including group and individual therapy. Our compassionate staff would love to help you find the right therapist based on your background, personality, needs, and treatment goals. In addition to our comprehensive counseling and therapy services, we also offer telemedicine, neurofeedback, and nutrition and dietary counseling. If you need help finding a therapist, call Achieve Medical Center today at (619) 375-3977. We would be honored to help you find the right therapist and treatment plan for your mental health needs.