Finding a therapist who has experience in your issues is important. If you can’t find a therapist with experience in your issues, then find one who has a supervisor who is experienced and can provide the supervision they need.
To help determine who might be the best fit for you, it’s okay to ask them questions before scheduling your appointment. This can be done by phone, or if necessary, you can schedule an appointment (usually there is a fee) to interview the therapist face to face. Since therapists traditionally see clients for 45-55 minutes, they may not have time to return your call until the end of their day.
When you leave a message for them, let them know you are looking for a therapist and have some questions for them. This should alert them to allow time to respond when they return your call. Their personal policy may be that you must be seen face to face in order to answer questions, due to the number of questions that may be asked. PsychologyToday,com which has therapist listings actually provides some basic information on therapists, but you’ll want to ask more specific questions to determine if the therapist is right for you. Sometimes they will respond to questions via email, but you lack hearing their voice response in an email response.
Questions You May Want to Ask
How much experience do you have with (insert your issue[s]). This may be in the form of number of years or perhaps you want to know how many clients they have worked with that have been struggling with this.
What kind of treatments (modalities) do you use with clients that struggle with this issue(s)? This is looking at if they use Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT), EMDR, Somatic Experiencing (SE), Brain Spotting, Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT), Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, Person Centered Therapy, etc. They may pull from any number of these and be more eclectic to meet the needs of each client individually.
Are you licensed to provide treatment in (insert your state or country)? In the US, therapists must be licensed in the state that a client is in, or they need to have researched that state and have requested telehealth privileges which may limit the number of sessions per month and/or year, or depending upon the licensure, they may have a special affiliation called a compact agreement (Psychologists have this with some states) and if they have been vetted through this, they may see clients in some other state via telemental health.
How long have you been practicing as a therapist? This question doesn’t always reflect their competence with your issue, because many newer therapists just graduating are under supervision and are more inclined to research issues newer to them to provide the best treatment possible. If you are in a geographical location where there aren’t a lot of options for treatment, sometimes new providers are a good option if they are willing to do their homework.
If you are in a geographical location with limited providers and they aren’t familiar with the issue but there aren’t any other alternatives for treatment, a question you might want to ask is are you willing to seek supervision from someone with experience who can help you develop the skills to work with me on (insert the issue)?
Write out other important questions that you have here.
How often do you see clients for individual sessions?
How long is an individual session (this is typically in minutes)?
How long does it take to get an initial appointment? If they have a waitlist, how long is the waitlist on average?
Do you take my insurance (insert name of your insurance)? You can typically look up providers on the insurance website to verify they are listed, but that doesn’t always mean they are continuing to take that insurance if the insurance has been slow to pay or there have been issues with documentation.
If you do not have insurance, or the therapist does not take your insurance, does the therapist offer a sliding scale fee?
Are you available if I have an emergency or are in crisis? If not, is there someone on call? Some community mental health centers have a call center for crisis and you may be unable to speak directly to your specific therapist.