10 questions you should ask your psychologist or therapist when you first meet.

A while back, a new client showed up at her first session with a printed out list of questions to ask me. Most of her questions I typically try to address with all new clients during the first session. Nonetheless, it got me thinking about the importance of these types of questions and my responses to them. The client generously offered me her list to share with others.

This isn’t intended to be an exhaustive list, nor is it necessary to ask all these questions. The questions are intended to empower you, as someone seeking help, to make sure that you get the best possible care. If your psychologist or therapist can’t answer these questions in a satisfactory way, or answers them in a way that is unhelpful (or even worse, reveals incompetence), then you may want to reconsider working with that person.

Good answers to these questions will also help you feel more confident with the therapeutic process. This should lead to increased trust and comfort.

Don’t be afraid to ask these types of questions – the resulting discussion will help clarify expectations and establish some clear ideas about the treatment process.

The questions:

  1. What experience do you have working with the types of difficulties that I am experiencing?
  2. What is your approach to doing therapy for difficulties such as mine?
  3. How effective is that approach?
  4. Do you have an understanding of perspectives that are different than yours (e.g., gender, ethnicity, identity, spirituality, etc.)?
  5. What types of things do you expect me to do between sessions (e.g., activities, journaling, etc.)?
  6. How do you feel about feedback? How would you respond if I told you that something you said hurt or offended me, or that I didn’t agree with you?
  7. How long does it usually take for therapy to be helpful for people with difficulties similar to mine? How many sessions, on average?
  8. How will we measure treatment progress? How will we know if treatment is working?
  9. What do you do when treatment doesn't seem to be working?
  10. How will I know when therapy is finished?

Feel free to add to the list in the comments section.