Some housekeeping before we begin:
There are many different kinds of mental health professionals, for simplicity’s sake, I will use the terms therapist and therapy. Know that this advice applies to any mental health professional that you are considering working with.
I’m not covering credentials here, you should be able to find education, license, and certification information during your initial search online.
If you are working through a clinic to find your therapist, you may not have the option to set up a phone consultation (or even select the person that you want to work with). That’s okay, you can still use these questions below to help gauge if the fit feels right during your first session. Often, clinics will give you the option to switch if the first match doesn’t work out. On a personal note, I’ve had incredibly good luck through clinics that assign therapists.
- If you are looking for online therapy options, check out this guide I wrote to compare Talkspace vs. Betterhelp.
Questions to ask your therapist during your first session
What is their personal philosophy on therapy?
What about medication?
What kinds of modals have they studied/trained in?
How long do they typically work with clients?
Some therapists will aim to work with you for a limited number of sessions, others see clients for years. Asking will give you an idea of what to expect and if it’s in alignment with your goals.
How frequently will you meet?
What can you expect the first few sessions to be like?
Special note for LGBTQ+ folx: It’s important that you find a therapist that is LGBTQ+ affirming.
Here are a few great questions that I pulled from Advocate:
- What is your training, knowledge and experience in working with the LGBTQ population?
- What is your sexual orientation and gender identity? (Not all therapists will feel comfortable answering this question but most affirmative therapists will respond, as a matter of modeling.)
- Do you provide “conversion therapy” or “reparative therapy” or “sexual orientation change efforts?” If not, what do you believe about this approach?