What do you ask a therapist you are thinking of working with? It’s hard to make a start. Perhaps you’ve had a long history of lukewarm help. There’s a lot of it about. Perhaps you’re daunted by the field, and all the varying styles and approaches available. Plus many of the roles are not protected. Anyone can call themselves a therapist or counsellor. Even psychotherapist is not a protected term.
Some of the best questions to ask are about your therapist’s experience, training, and approach. But a key question is: Do you have supervision?
A key facet of good therapeutic practice is whether your therapist has a more experienced therapist watching over them. Psychological work is complex, nuanced, and often brings up blind spots and feelings in the therapist themselves. Would you rather work with one who thinks they can go it alone? Or would you prefer a therapist who is stringent and sensible enough to know that two heads are better than one. That way you have not just your therapist on your side, but also an experienced overseer to help. Someone more impartial.
Other aspects to look at are whether they keep notes after sessions, how meticulous their intake process is, whether they are good at providing you with details, directions, and a predictable and organised first session. Are they part of a governing body?
Choosing a therapist is worth taking your time over. And as expensive and laborious as it can be, it’s worth seeing more than one before you make your instinctive choice. After that, it’s important to commit to a few sessions before reviewing your decision. If you’re non-committal, it’s easy to be flaky about the process and not get the kind of benefits that only come from making a proper investment of your time. Relationships form and deepen slowly, and the therapeutic one is no different.