6 Questions to Ask a Therapist During Your First Session

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Starting therapy may be highly beneficial for millions of Americans suffering from mental health conditions. However, finding a mental health professional that can help with a specific condition can be challenging and may increase anxiety for many individuals. 

It can be challenging to know where to start if you have never sought mental health services. You may request a referral from your primary care physician, a friend or family member, or your insurance company. 

But even the most highly-regarded therapist may not be a good fit for you. Knowing what questions to ask a therapist during your first session is often helpful. This process can quickly ease any anxieties and help you choose a therapist most likely to benefit you. 

A few critical questions to ask a therapist before or during your first session include:

1. Do they take your health insurance? Medical care is costly, even when treating mental health issues. But these sessions are covered by most insurance companies if the clinician accepts this type of insurance. You may be left with a hefty bill paying out of pocket if they don’t. Therefore, you will want to find one that can address your conditions and accept your insurance. 

2. What is your professional history and training? Most people wouldn’t trust a brand new doctor with a complex surgery with a low chance of survival. Alternatively, with a minor issue, you may get great treatment from a relatively new practitioner. The point is that you should have a good idea of any potential therapist’s history and experience before making a decision. 

3. What’s your therapeutic style or specialty? Different therapists structure their sessions differently. They may also incorporate different therapeutic strategies, depending on the treatment goals. Look for a therapist that is well-versed in the types of therapy that you feel may work best. 

For instance, if cognitive behavioral therapy is something you would like to explore, you will want to find a therapist that can work with this type of treatment. Asking this question provides an excellent opportunity to speak about your preferences, which is one of the best ways to feel comfortable when starting therapy sessions. 

Suppose you are still determining the type of treatment you would prefer. In that case, you can also ask the clinician if they have therapeutic medical advice and what they would recommend based on your limited interactions and any current diagnoses. The answer can give you a good idea of what to expect when you begin therapy sessions. 

4. Are you able to prescribe medications? Some mental health disorders respond best to a combination of therapy and pharmaceuticals. Some therapists, such as psychiatrists and psychiatric nurse practitioners, can prescribe medications, while others would require you to see an additional mental health professional to handle medications. Knowing this information will help you understand how your mental health needs may be met. 

5. Can you help me with setting goals or achieving the goals I have already set? Many people who require mental health treatment often don’t have clearly defined goals other than knowing they need help. 

But good therapists can help you see beyond the immediate problems and help you identify achievable goals that will enhance your quality of life. They can then help you identify incremental steps in achieving the goals you have laid out. Within this conversation, a therapist may also give you realistic time frames for making progress, giving you a better idea of what to expect. 

6. How often are you able to see me? Depending upon the mental health disorder, any additional conditions, and the patient’s needs, some patients may need to be seen more frequently or on an emergency basis. 

Unfortunately, there is a shortage of mental health professionals in the country, which can mean many patients wait longer than they should. Therefore, before selecting a therapist, you should ensure that the therapist offers availability that meets your needs. 

Finding the right therapist can take quite a bit of legwork. But you want to make the right choice since the right therapist can help you progress much quicker than one that isn’t a good fit. This list includes several great questions to ask a therapist, and the responses can help you make the right decision – so don’t be afraid to ask!

To learn more about mental health treatment options, contact Memor Health today. 

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