Looking for mental health counseling for yourself or your child? With more Americans than ever before seeking therapy, you’re not alone. Whether you are struggling with anxiety, depression, or relationships, more people are feeling comfortable reaching out to a therapist. As you look for someone who will meet your needs, here’s a list of the top 10 questions to ask during that first phone call.
1. Are you accepting new clients?
Hands down, ask this first! Even if it says on their website or directory listing that they are accepting new patients, it might not actually be the case. Therapists don’t always remember to update their status in all the places their information is listed.
2. Do you accept my insurance?
If you plan to use your insurance benefits, ask this before you go further. Have your insurance card in hand so a therapist can confirm they accept your specific plan. If you don’t plan to use your benefits, skip on to the third question.
3. What are your rates?
If you’re going to pay out-of-pocket for therapy, you’ll want to know the costs. And even if you are using insurance, this is still a good question to ask because of deductible and out-of-pocket expenses. If you and a therapist are not in the same ballpark, no need to continue the conversation.
4. Are you licensed in my state?
It’s important to confirm that a therapist is licensed to practice in your state- this applies whether you want in-person appointments or telehealth. You can also verify their professional license and that is in good standing. To look up a Colorado professional license, click here.
5. What are your areas of expertise?
It can be helpful to know about a therapist’s specialties. This information can give you confidence that they can meet your needs. If their answer does not match what you’re looking for, you’ve saved yourself some time.
6. What is your philosophy about therapy?
This question allows you to hear about how a therapist approaches therapy. What they believe about people and how change happens. Therapists use a lot of acronyms and jargon- so if you don’t understand something, ask them to explain. Hear things that make sense or resonate for you? A great sign that a therapist may be a match for you!
7. What is your appointment availability?
Frequently people don’t ask this right away- but it can be a deal breaker. You may need early morning, Thursdays after school, or weekend availability. Knowing that a therapist has the days and times you need is an important factor to screen for.
8. Where is your office located?
The pandemic changed the way many of us think about healthcare by improving accessibility with telehealth. Even though telehealth is convenient, you might prefer to attend sessions in person. Learning about where a therapist is located can help you decide whether the travel time works for you.
9. Do you offer telehealth?
Even if you are planning to attend in-person sessions, this is still a good question to ask. Telehealth can give you a bit more flexibility in cases of bad weather, scheduling conflicts, or illness. It’s smart to know upfront if your therapist offers this as an option.
10. Do you offer a complimentary session?
Many therapists will offer a complimentary phone consultation or first session. This allows both you and the therapist to learn more about each other to see if there is a fit. A therapist may identify needs you have that can best be addressed by another professional or a specialist and determine they are not the best person to help you. Or, you might not feel a connection to the therapist or comfortable in their office. A consultation appointment allows you to meet without committing to work together.
Of course, these questions are just a starting point for most people. You should feel comfortable and confident asking any additional questions that come up for you.
Starting therapy is a huge first step. Congratulations on beginning and good luck on your journey.