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4 min read

Top 5 Questions To Ask Your New Therapist

Therapist's office with sleek modern furniture


Key Takeaways:

  • There’s nothing wrong with checking the credentials and experience of a new therapist.
  • Any trained therapist would be happy to give you any information you need to start building trust in them.
  • Some questions you can ask a new therapist include:
    • How long have you been practicing?
    • What made you want to become a therapist?
    • How is your approach unique?

Signing on with a new therapist can feel a lot like jumping into a lake.

You know you want to jump in, and you really do think it'll be a good experience overall. But how deep is this water? What's in it? Is there anything that I should look out for that could end up hurting me?

You know that at some point, you'll eventually have to take the leap. But there's nothing wrong with asking these types of questions.  

Many patients are apprehensive about asking a potential therapist questions. They don't want to come across as skeptical or feel like they're questioning their therapist's credentials.

But here's the thing: the therapist is there to create the safest and most productive environment for your healing journey. Questions are a valuable part of the therapeutic relationship, so any trained therapist will be happy to answer any questions you might have.

In fact, building this rapport before you even start sessions can potentially even make your therapist's job easier, since it gives them an opportunity to build a foundation of trust and comfort.

Let's walk through the best questions to ask your therapist when you're deciding whether or not to officially get started with therapy.

Quickly navigate to questions to ask a new therapist:

How long have you been practicing? Where did you earn your degree?

What specialties do you like to focus on?

How does your approach differ from other therapists'?

What do you like most about being a therapist?

What will the average session look like if we work together?

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How long have you been practicing? Where did you earn your degree?

This is a pretty standard question, but one of the most important. This question can help you narrow down your search for a therapist by giving you specific, measurable information about their experience.

Of course, experience and education aren't the be-all and end-all of a therapist's efficacy. It's entirely possible that a licensed mental health counselor with an online degree who's brand-new to the industry is the best match for you simply because you really feel you can trust them. The most important aspect of a therapist is their ability to break down walls that people have built up over years or even decades.

However, if you're trying to choose between two therapists that you really like and feel comfortable with, this question can at least give you one more metric by which to narrow your choices.

In general, a therapist with more experience may have seen more cases similar to yours and, by extension, may have more insight into your specific concern.

What specialties do you like to focus on?

Therapy is a huge field with dozens of different areas of study, often with little overlap. Many therapists choose to specialize in one or two areas so that they can become as effective as possible in treating those areas.

Try to find a therapist who specializes in what's worrying or hurting you. If you're having relationship problems, couples therapy sessions may be best. A family therapist can help you address trauma with parents or siblings, as well as navigate things like blending families or moving to a new city with children.

There are hundreds of other mental health problems that therapists can specialize in, including (to name a very small portion):

Ask your therapist what their specialty is and see if it lines up with your needs. Remember, it's your mental health, so you're the boss. If a therapist doesn't seem familiar with your situation, don't hesitate to politely let the therapist know you will be continuing your search.

How does your approach differ from other therapists'?

Every patient's mental health is different, so therapists (and especially psychologists) may tweak their approach depending on what their patient needs.

Asking your therapist about their process gives you insight into how effective you think they will be in relation to how you think, as well as what a typical session might look like.

If your potential therapist's approach seems too hard or too soft for your situation, you can definitely keep searching. If they seem to really know what you need and how to access the deeper parts of your mind, great! That may be your therapist.

Note that most qualified therapists will use evidence-backed methods and techniques that are based on science and, therefore, similar to each other in many regards. Some of these methods include:

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy
  • Acceptance and commitment therapy
  • Dialectical behavior therapy
  • Emotion-focused therapy

Within each method, however, therapists have the freedom to tailor a treatment plan to your specific case. The approach that each therapist takes in doing so varies, so asking about it can help you clear up some expectations about working with a certain professional.

What do you like most about being a therapist?

Asking this question can provide two benefits when it comes to your mental health treatment:

  1. It gives you a chance to look for any red flags. Is the therapist obviously just in it for the money? Do they seem to like the power associated with being a medical professional? If so, it might be a good idea to keep looking. Very few therapists are actually like that, but it never hurts to check.
  2. It helps humanize them and gives you insight into their own personality. Knowing your potential therapist is an important part of your mental health journey, so gaining perspective on their "why" can make your therapy experience more human.

What will the average session look like if we work together?

Mental health through therapy is about comfort and consistency. Knowing what to expect from a potential therapist can help you feel less nervous and get ready for the first session.

For example, if you and your spouse are looking for a marriage and family therapist, asking this question gives you insight into mental health professionals' strategies so you and your partner can be ready to answer the right questions in a productive way.

Therapy in Austin: Williamsburg Therapy Group

When you book a therapy session with Williamsburg Therapy Group, you can rest assured knowing you'll be getting the best care in the city.

Every member of our staff is a doctoral degree-holding psychologist, so they may have extra insight into the specifics of your concern.

Schedule a therapy session today to start or continue your mental health journey. Feeling better may be closer than you think.

Book a Therapy Session in Austin Today

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