22 Questions to Ask Your New Therapist
There are a lot of intimidating steps before you begin the process of therapy.
While addressing your mental health is more normalized, you may still feel stigma about talking to a professional. Deciding to invest the time and money therapy usually takes is a big choice to make. Researching which type of therapist is the best fit for you can be gruelling.
You may be right at the brink of making a decision when you think; am I prepared for this? Should I have some prior knowledge before walking into a first session? Is there a way I can make sure the therapist is really right for me?
As an intake specialist, I have seen clients grapple with these questions time and time again. Whether it’s a brief initial consultation, a paid intake session, or you’re diving straight into your first therapy session, it is completely normal to want to be prepared.
Knowing what questions to ask can help you:
- Feel more confident as you enter that first session
- Set the stage for a collaborative therapeutic relationship
- Better understand whether a therapist is the right fit for you
- Make sure that your expectations of therapy align with their services
By the end of this article, you’ll have 22 questions you can ask during your first therapy session, and know what the answers may illuminate about the therapist, their practice, and you!
Cost and Coverage
- Do you offer a sliding scale?
- Do you provide direct billing?
- Do you have cancellation fees?
- Are your services OHIP-covered?
- How much do you charge per session?
- Are your services covered under my insurance?
Questions regarding therapy costs may feel awkward to ask, but being direct and clear about pricing helps avoid unfortunate situations in the future.
Nothing is worse than receiving an invoice with a number that’s way higher than what you thought it would be.
It can also be jarring to think your insurance covers the cost of psychotherapeutic services, only to find out your therapist exclusively offers social work services.
Education and Expertise
- What degree do you have?
- Are you currently licensed?
- How long have you been a therapist?
- How much experience do you have working with issues like mine?
Ensuring that your therapist has the right educational and professional experience to work with you is important. Not all therapists are trained to treat all issues.
If you’re dealing with trauma, for example, you want a therapist that is trauma-informed and has worked with patients dealing with trauma in the past.
Some clients opt for younger therapists who have less experience, but more recent education, while others prefer more seasoned professionals.
It is also very beneficial to ensure that your therapist is licensed. Many people are unaware, but in Ontario, you can use the terms “counsellor” and “therapist” without formal qualifications.
Asking outright if your therapist has certifications can help you avoid some unwelcome surprises in the future!
What to Expect
- Will you diagnose me?
- How long is each session?
- How long will therapy last?
- How often should I attend sessions?
- Will sessions be in-person or online?
- What does a typical session look like?
Knowing how long sessions are, how often you’ll attend, and what you can expect while you’re there are extremely valid inquiries that can help you better gauge how your therapeutic journey will go.
Your therapist will not always know how long or often you should attend therapy, especially at the beginning. They may, however, be able to give you a general idea of the typical length of treatment for your issues.
Approach to Therapy
- What will my treatment plan look like?
- Do you have a typical therapy approach?
- What types of therapy do you specialize in?
These questions may seem a little daunting if you don’t know much about the styles of therapy, but remember, no inquiry is unwelcome. Once a therapist tells you the type of therapy they provide, it’s okay to ask what that looks like.
It can also be very beneficial to share how you would like to approach therapy. Are you more future-oriented, or would you like to explore your past? Do you want someone to give you space and validation as you talk through your issues, or do you want to jump right into solutions?
Making these things clear with your therapist will help them create a better treatment plan for you.
- How can I best make progress in therapy?
- What are your expectations of me during this process?
- If I need a diagnosis or medication, how will you be able to help?
Knowing the expectations your therapist has for you can help you start on the right foot. It’s also beneficial to know what your therapist can and can’t do regarding diagnoses and medications.
Remember, while some mental health professionals can prescribe and give formal diagnoses, others can’t. Knowing this from the beginning can save you time and disappointment!
Starting on the Right Foot with Your New Therapist
22 questions seem like a lot, I know. You don’t need to ask your therapist all of them to have a productive first session. It can be relieving, however, to know what things you should consider before starting your therapeutic journey.
Remember, your therapist is not there to judge you. No question is small or naive. As you start your therapeutic journey, it’s good to feel confident and active, and knowing what to ask can help you do that.
Wondering if therapy is even right for you? Check out our article Will Psychotherapy Help Me?
If you’d like to know what a first intake session will look like, read What Should I Expect in a Therapy Introductory Appointment?
Curious about whether your therapist is the right fit? Read How to Know if Your Therapist is the Right Fit.