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How to choose a therapist? Part 2

Interviewing your therapist

You can find therapists by talking to people you know, asking your doctor and exploring therapist profiles and websites online. As you do this, gather their contact details and start to plan the kinds of questions you might want to ask them. It is sometimes possible to get some sense of a therapist by speaking with them on the phone, but meeting face to face, sometimes more than once, is preferable.  It is best to take as much charge of your therapy as possible. Try to make the calls yourself and to keep the relationship with your therapist between the two of you. If you are sure that you can't set up an appointment without help, then ask a loved one to make the first call for you, but do take things from there.  Be aware that the way some therapists comes across during initial meetings can differ from how they are once they shift into psychotherapy mode. You will only get an accurate sense of how they work after spending some time with them, so initial interview meetings have more to do with personality match. Questions to ask over the phone, via email or in person, to help you prepare for your initial meeting: Questions to ask yourself after your initial meeting:  Now that you are well-informed, it's time to choose one or a few therapists to set up a meeting with. It's okay to interview more than one therapist. You can be open about treating the encounter as a mutual assessment and whether you plan to see others. Experienced therapists know that they aren't the best fit for everyone and understand that it is important to find someone you feel is right for you. The choice is yours.

  • Are they a licensed psychotherapist? A licence implies they meet minimum standards, follow an ethics code and are subject to accountability.

  • Do they have experience with your kinds of concerns? 

  • Have they helped others effectively with those concerns? 

  • Do they provide the kind of therapy you are looking for?

  • Are they taking on new clients?

  • How long would you need to wait for an appointment?

  • How much do they charge, and do they offer a sliding scale? 

  • Can you claim to be reimbursed by your insurance?

  • How do they expect to be paid?

  • Are they willing to accommodate your financial circumstances to help make therapy sustainable? 

  • Do they keep liability insurance? This ensures you are compensated if something goes wrong.

  • What is their professional licence or registration category?

  • What level of training do they have?

  • How long have they been working?

  • Are they experienced in the mode you require? E.g. individual therapy, family therapy, group therapy, long-term, short-term, etc.

  • Do they follow a preferred frame or model?

  • What will their approach with you be?

  • How often will you meet, how long is a session, what is the expected length of therapy and why?

  • What are the boundaries? E.g., can you call between sessions?

  • Did they match your preferences? E.g., gender, age, ethnicity or background?

  • Did you feel comfortable with this person? Yes, the meeting might have involved discussing uncomfortable things, but did you like the person and were they on your side?

  • Were they able to listen authentically and thoughtfully?

  • Did they seem to be interested, attentive, caring? Did they understand and accept you?

  • Did they seem competent and trustworthy?

  • Did they have appropriate boundaries, e.g. no flirting or telling you their problems?  

  • Could you be honest and authentic with this person?

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