Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Asking the questions

It always surprises me that people rarely ask questions when they start therapy. I cover all the legal and administrative issues as you'd expect. I also like to get an idea of what people's expectations are. People seem comfortable with that. It's expected that I ask the questions.

Yet embarking on a therapeutic relationship is not an insignificant matter. I wouldn't allow a surgeon to operate without asking about his or her experience with my particular situation and outcomes achieved. Why should a therapist be any different? A good therapist-patient fit is essential. Therapists are not 'one size fits all' and sometimes it may be necessary to 'trial' a couple before finding one that feels right. Asking some of these questions (as appropriate) at your initial session may be all you need to gauge suitability.

What are your qualifications?

You wouldn't hire an electrician to plumb your bathroom, would you?

What professional body do you belong to?

Membership of a professional body usually requires attainment of a certain level of proficiency/ training.

How long have you been practicing?

Can demonstrate both experience and stability in the profession.

Do you have regular supervision?

Deminstrates ongoing commitment to personal development.

What kind of therapy do you practice?

Important to have some understanding of what to expect or to know if the therapist practices a modality that you personally do not feel comfortable with.

What experience do you have with my particular presentation?

What outcomes have you experienced?

You need to know you're getting someone experienced for your particular issue.

Have you ever been in therapy yourself?

It can be beneficial to know that your therapist has experienced being a patient. A good therapist will be happy to be open (to a certain degree) about personal experience in therapy.

What do you think? As a client, any questions you'd like to ask but don't? Why? As a therapist, what do you feel about these questions?


Sandy,PhD said...

Excellent list of questions. It amazes me too, how many people will say, "I got your name from my insurance provider list." When I ask if they have any questions, "ummm, no?" I'm always glad for them that they somehow stumbled upon me rather than a few others I can think of.

Awake In Rochester said...

Very good! I will have to keep that in mind if I get a therapist.

Sorry I haven't visited much. I have to use a library computer these days, and it's very hard to keep up.

Claire said...

I am only a trainee therapist at the mo, not yet let loose on real folks properly:)

I always do a verbal or written contract that usually depends on the organisation I would be working for. In that contract, qualifications and professional body are mentioned, along with what type of therapy you practice.

I have no problem with the supervision questions, as I think it is an essential thing for all counsellors/therapists. For every 8 hours of counselling, I have to go for supervision (or will when I am actually doing it).

Experience question is going to be a bit difficult, as I could say 3 years if including all my training but in reality if it was my first actual client, would they really want to hear the answer erm about 5 minutes?

Also not sure about the personal therapy question, as it was not compulsory on my course and maybe would be only relevant if it felt appropriate to disclose that.

Kelley said...

Great questions! I've had several therapists and always find it helpful to ask what their theoretical orientations are. I know by now some of the ones that are helpful and some that aren't. It also teaches me a lot about the flexibility of the therapist – are they strictly, say, REBT or do they combine a couple modalities? Are they so scattered they don't have a coherent structure? It's my initial way of evaluating and I've been quite successful with it.

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