Once you make the decision to pursue counseling, you must then decide WHICH therapist to call. Many people ask friends or family members for recommendations, others search the internet, and still others use the old-fashioned yellow pages. No matter how you choose, that first session is your opportunity to see if you have found a therapist who will meet your needs.
Dr. John Grohol, CEO of PsychCentral, writes
The four most important attributes of a good therapist are:
1. A good therapist is positive and empathetic.
2. A good therapist is professional, courteous, and respectful.
3. A good therapist recognizes her strengths and limitations.
4. A good therapist is genuine.
As you meet and talk with your therapist the first time, look for these characteristics. Here are some suggestions of questions you could ask as you are determining if your therapist has the four key criteria listed above:
- How are you licensed? What are your training credentials? Do you belong to any professional groups?
- How would you describe your treatment style? Many different treatment styles exist. Different approaches may be more or less appropriate for you depending on your situation and needs.
- What kind of evaluation process do you use to recommend a treatment plan?
- What are the measurable criteria you use to assess how well treatment is working? Can you give me a few examples?
- Do you use published clinical practice guidelines to guide your treatment planning? How?
- What psychotherapeutic approaches and tools do you use?
- How do you decide which approach is best for the patient? Do you ever use more than one approach? When?
- How will you work with other medical providers, such as psychiatrist, who may also provide care?
- How often will we meet? How long will treatment last? How do I know when treatment is complete?
Think about how well you will be able to relate to the therapist as she answers these questions. You want to achieve the best possible match in order to have the greatest chance of meeting your goals.
If you would like to ask me any of the above questions, or learn more about my practice. Please contact me.