5 Questions to Ask when Looking for a Therapist
The first step to change is admitting you need help, but unfortunately we can’t blink 3 times and have a therapist appear! Finding the perfect fit can be daunting, so here are 5 questions to keep in mind when finding the right person.
- “Who do my trusted friends, family or church leaders recommend?”
While favorite restaurants or new movies may be popular topics of conversation, not everyone will freely discuss their counselor recommendations. You may have to find the perfect time, and ask in a way that offers both you and them confidentiality. You don’t have to ask their personal experiences, or even disclose your own! You may want to throw out a discreet question such as, “do you know of a local therapist that works with children/addiction/marriages/etc.”
- “What kind of online presence can I find?”
Many practices have a website, Facebook page, or Instagram account to look up. If not, you can sometimes see reviews in local community groups. In our hometown of Fort Worth, TX, we have the ability to use the “search” bar in various neighborhood groups to type in, “therapist,” “counselor,” “counseling,” or “Licensed Professional Counselor”. You can also ask the question yourself and perhaps find a useful lead! An open-ended non-assuming question could be, “Does anyone in this group know of a great therapist in the area?” You don’t have to go into your personal story, or even announce that it’s for you!
- “So I found a few names, but how do I know if they’re a good fit for me?”
Here’s where the phone calls come in. Grab a pen, paper, calendar, and set aside about 1 hour to follow up on leads. Don’t wait until you’re free…it most likely won’t happen! You are busy and most likely already juggling too much, but remember: You’ve already decided to make a change. This is the first step. Find a comfortable seat, brew a cup of tea, shut the door to your room or office and start dialing. If calling a larger practice, they most likely have a receptionist. For a single private practice, the counselor might return their own calls in the evenings or schedule an “administration hour.” Make sure to add their number to your “contacts” so you won’t miss their return call!
You can ask a few questions over the phone, and get a “feel” for the counselor or practice group. Here are a few questions. Take notes, because they may use terminology you can search later! (Example, he is trained in Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, or Cognitive Behavioral Analysis System of Psychotherapy)
- What are the counselor’s credentials and treatment modes?
- Do you have a website where I can find more information about your practice?
- What are the counselor’s areas of expertise and experience?
- If there are multiple counselors in the practice, could you match me with one based on my specific situation?
- What are the counselor’s available times?
At our practice, Restoration Counseling, we offer appointments with an Intake Specialist if more specific care is needed than a quick phone call! The specialist can hear more about your case and schedule you with the right therapist.
- “What does all this mean?”
Research your notes. Look up those terms that may sound like gobblygook, and spend time deciding how they resonate with your own worldviews and philosophies.
- “Will you please tell me your available time slots?”
Make an appointment Set a goal and do it. “I will have an appointment written on my calendar with a counselor by the end of this week.” Some may have a wait-list, so have a plan of action of ways to stay committed to healing during the delay. Join a free recovery group (Alcoholics Anonymous, Celebrate Recovery, etc.). Open up to a trusted spiritual leader (pastor, deacon, etc.). Meet friends for coffee or spend time journaling.
Honestly, if you’ve made it through and taken the time to answer these questions, you deserve confetti falling from the sky and a standing ovation! While these unfortunately don’t typically occur, we hope you find the pay-off in restored self, relationships, and abundant growth along the way.