Updated: Aug 3
Approaching a new therapist can be challenging. Many new patients have called me and stumbled over their words, unsure what to ask. And I understand the feeling, especially for first-timers. Sometimes, you don’t know what to say.
So, I’m here today to help you get to know your new counsellor before committing your time and money.
The core question to ask a new therapist concerns the therapy’s nature. For example, how does it work, or how long is a session? These questions visualise what both sides will be doing during the therapy. Then, the patients can decide whether the treatment fits their conditions and lifestyle.
Knowing what to expect can enhance the effect of a session. So, feel free to talk to me as much as you’d like. And if you’re still unsure which question to ask, here are the 4 inquiries I recommend.
What questions should you ask a new therapist?
Before diving straight into the question, I’d like to clarify something:
The following questions are not the be-all-end-all list. Depending on the situation, some questions might be unnecessary. However, they offer a starting point to help you determine if you should commit to the therapist. And without further ado, let’s get right into it.
#1 Are you accredited?
In a therapy setup, trust is beyond paramount.
The therapist-patient relationship starts with strangers like any other bond. So, clear all the distrust away from the first day. Asking if the therapist is qualified is the easiest way to establish the groundwork.
Rest assured. I won’t be offended by a question like, “Are you accredited?” Most counsellors and therapists would gladly show you their accreditation and other papers to secure your trust. This can be done with a quick share of a link.
For example, you can view my accredation here.
Unfortunately, some "fake" therapists operate with false certification too. Please make sure that the accreditations come from trusted organisations like the following.
British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP)
UK Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP)
National Counselling & Psychotherapy Society (NCPS)
Counselling and Psychotherapy in Scotland (COSCA)
These certifications should help bridge you and the therapy together. So, don’t hesitate to ask.
#2 How does the therapy work?
If this is your first time at a psychotherapist clinic, this question will be more crucial than others. Even for the experienced ones, the question is still recommended.
As I often say, each therapist has their own methodology. It’s a great idea to gain a basic understanding of the treatment before committing. However, asking “How does it work” could be too broad. The “how” “when” and “where” is important. But sometimes, it could be inadequate.
So, you might want to extract the following details and see if they resonate with you or not.
What will you be doing most of the time? The answer is most likely “converse” or “answer questions.” Nevertheless, some therapists might require you to listen to music or paint pictures as part of the treatment. Foreseeing these events can help reduce your stress before the actual sessions.
How long is the therapy? Various therapists offer sessions of various frequencies. I work with weekly appointments of 45 minutes, but the initial consultation can be longer at 90 minutes. The frequency is important as the therapy requires regular sessions on an ongoing basis.
Once you have accepted my method of working and these parameters are agreed upon, we will work through the process with a beginning, a middle, and an end. As we move through the therapy, we will discuss an ending (generally with 1-months advance notice).
Does it involve drugs & medicine? Many therapists use counselling techniques together with prescribing medicine for the treatment. But some strictly avoid drugs too. So, make sure to gain this info beforehand. I do not prescribe medication, but I am happy to work with patients who are also working with a psychiatrist and are receiving medication as part of their treatment.
Is there a test session? If you’re really on the fence, many therapists offer free chat sessions to gauge the compatibility of the patients. And I’m one of them too. During a brief chat of 5-7 minutes, you can ask me questions about how I work and my availability. Ultimately, it’s a perfect opportunity to make an initial connection and for you to get a feel if I am the right person.
#3 How much does the service cost?
At the end of the day, money is undeniably one of the deciding factors. And unfortunately, there are only 2 responses for you: Yes and No. It’s either affordable or too much for the pocket. Either way, it’s better to clear the financial issue from the start. And you can be upfront about it too. I understand.
#4 Is there anyone you recommend?
If the current therapist is not for you, you can ask where to go next. It’s quite common for patients to walk away, whether because of money, methodology, trust, or other reasons. So, before leaving, you might as well get a new destination.
Again, you can rest assured. I won’t be offended by the question. And I will gladly help your case. I can guide you and offer advice on searching for a new therapist (i.e., similar to how you found me), and encourage you to connect with an accredited person over a brief chat.
Mutual understanding goes a long way
You might notice that all the questions here focus on getting to know the therapist and the therapy.
As mentioned, knowing what to expect helps in the treatment progress. So, start your therapist-patient relationship with a firm foundation. And from there, you can receive the much-needed help and care.
Feel free to start with me if you’re unsure where to try out these questions. I’m always open to all kinds of inquiries. And maybe, you might find me the right fit for you too. And before you ask, I offer a free chat. Now, book your session below and ask away.