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Pastoral Counselor/Therapist

While this list has 23 questions on it, you don't need to ask all of them. However, this list should give you some ideas about what you could ask to get a better feel for a potential therapist. When evaluating, pay attention to the answers, and to how they answer the questions.

23 Questions to Ask a Potential Therapist

1. Do you take my insurance?

This has become increasingly important, especially if you have no coverage for people who are outside your network. A potential therapist won't be an expert on your individual plan – but they can tell you whether they are in a network with your insurance provider.

2. What license(s) do you have to be a therapist and how long have you been practicing?

There are many different types of therapists, such as social workers, marriage and family therapists, mental health or professional counselors, psychologists, psychiatrists, etc., and each specialty has its own way of approaching therapy. (Learn more about the different types of therapists and find out which is best for you)

3. What experience do you have working with the types of problems I am experiencing?

Generally, having some experience or at least training in your problem area would be important.

4. What is your approach to doing therapy in a situation such as this one?

There are many schools of thought in the therapy community and the therapist may not be ready to say what they think will be best for you.

5. What has your success rate been with problems like this?

It's useful to know how often therapy can help, but keep in mind that most therapists do not keep statistics the same way that a surgeon might. It is also common for a therapist to have some failures as well as successes, so listen for honest disclosure in how the therapist answers.

6. In working with a patient or client, do you tend to be more directive or more like a consultant to the patient or client?

There are times when having a directive therapist can be very helpful but there are also times when it is good to have more of a guide on a path and to be more in control as a client. Which do you need or want?

7. What types of things would you expect me to do between sessions, if anything?

This will help you understand what the therapist is likely to expect from you.

8. Describe to me your ideal client.

Does this sound like you?

9. What do clients do that really annoy you?

10. What happens if I can’t make an appointment?

11. What happens if I am late for a session?

12. If I start having lots of problems between sessions, what are my options?

13. Are your appointment times flexible or will I get my own slot?

14. When you are away, what happens to my therapy?

15. Do you regularly make clients wait for their sessions or do they start on time?

16. Do you have an understanding of my perspective as a _______? (This could be based on gender, cultural, race, ethnicity, etc)

17. Do you do phone sessions if I need something at a different time?

18. If I wanted to bring someone else to a session, would that be a problem?

19 What would I have to do to be ready for the first session?

20. Does _____ have to find out about what I am working on?

This could be your employer, parent or other family member.

21. What is not private and confidential about what we do?

22. I’ve never been in therapy before, will it feel weird?

23. Do you think you can help me?

This is really a key question as your trust in their belief is really important.

Finding a Great Therapist

Asking the questions on this list will give you a feel for a potential therapist. No therapist is the right person for everyone, so finding a therapist that you are comfortable with is really important. This will then help you begin on the journey to peace and wholeness.

About the author Christopher Smith:
Details of my broad experience is available on my website. I combine together being an ordained minister (trained at Yale and serving a church part-time in Harlem/Washington Heights currently) with background and credentials in mental health (licensed mental health counselor in New York and Indiana; licensed clinical addiction counselor in Indiana) to work with a client to find the best ways forward as they address their issues and move back to abundant life. throughout, the focus is on where the client is coming from.
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Page last updated Apr 04, 2014

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