When looking for a therapist, it can be difficult to know how to find someone who will be a good fit. Knowing what to ask when initially contacting a therapist can help you determine if the therapist will meet your needs. This is important because the therapeutic relationship is a key, if not, THE key component to therapy. Whether you know what you are looking for in a therapist or have no clue, these questions will help determine if their approach will fit for you, but will also give you a feel for the therapist as a person.
Are you Directive or Non-Directive in your approach to therapy?
There are a variety of approaches to therapy. One way to narrow down the search would be to ask the therapist if they work from a directive or non-directive approach.
• Directive therapy is therapist led. If you are seeking a therapist who will guide the sessions with techniques to practice and instructions on ways to tackle the presenting problem, then the directive therapist may be the better fit for you. This approach is a shorter form of therapy, but is effective due to being solution focused.
• The non-directive therapist will provide reflections and possible interpretations of the content that the client chooses to discuss in session. The client will be in charge of his or her own growth, while the therapist will provide support along the way. This approach is a longer process, as non-directive therapists believe the client is the expert on their life and is capable of finding solutions when in a supportive and understanding environment.
How often do you see clients who have similar circumstances to me?
Knowing if the therapist works or has worked with similar cases as your own, can also help narrow down your search for the right therapist. Not all therapists work with all issues and, frankly, I would be weary of a therapist who claims to do this.
This question will also open up the door as to how long ago the therapist worked with a client similar to you. Being aware of the therapist’s specialty areas will also make it easier to determine whether they are the right fit for you.
Have you been in therapy yourself?
This is an important question for any potential therapist. As part of the therapeutic process, it is important that we, as therapists, have sought therapy of our own to prevent our issues from becoming those of our clients. A good therapist has done his or her own work and is, therefore, capable of facilitating the change you are seeking as a potential client. This question can also be supplemented with asking the therapist how often they consult with other colleagues. An important part of the therapy profession, is seeking consultations from our peers. This can also give you an idea as to what the therapist feels is appropriate to share in respect to their client’s confidentiality.
The final questions are for you!
These questions can help narrow down your search for the right therapist, but at the end of the day it is not just the therapist’s answers that you should be listening to, but also how you feel about the therapist as they are answering. Is the therapist easy to talk to? Do you feel comfortable talking to them? Did they respond to your call in a timely fashion? Go with your gut and happy therapist hunting!
Brittany Zielinski sees clients in our Denton, Lewisville and Farmers Branch offices. She is directive when teaching parenting skills, and non-directive in play therapy. She has seen her own therapist.