5 QUESTIONS TO HELP YOU FIND THE RIGHT THERAPIST
Many therapists listen well, are amiable and warm, and are available for evening and weekend appointments. But none of these things guarantee they are right for you. Do your research first, and ask for a phone consultation, which most therapists will provide for free, before committing to the first session. Be wary of therapists who claim to specialize in many many types of issues, and in many many types of therapy. Those who advertise a select number of issues and modes of therapy tend to truly hold the most expertise. Consider asking the following questions:
1. What type of approach do you take to therapy/what is your theoretical orientation (cognitive behavioral, psychodynamic, Jungian, etc.)? Do you have any specialized training?
2. How long have you been practicing?
3. What are the issues you most commonly treat?
4. What are your fees, and are they based on a sliding scale? Which types of insurance do you accept?
5. How, exactly, have you helped someone with issues similar to mine in the past
Once you have chosen a therapist, commit to attending at least 4-6 sessions before making a decision about whether or not you wish to continue, unless the first session is especially unhelpful or even hurtful. A good therapist will take time in the beginning to simply hear you out, to establish rapport, assess your needs, and foster the trust that is necessary for a therapeutic relationship to flourish. Finally, give your therapist feedback, as early as the first session, as to how things are going. By doing so, you will enhance the process of co-creating a therapy that is tailor-made just for you.
John Clarke, MA, EdS, LPC, is a licensed therapist who specializes in integrative treatment and Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) for anxiety, depression, trauma, and relationship issues in the Elizabeth area of Charlotte, North Carolina.