Finding A Counselor Or Therapist

By:  Michael G. Conner, Psy.D

Revised: 05/21/14


Positive outcomes in counseling and psychotherapy can be substantially the result of informed decision making and the selection of a counselor or therapist that best meets your needs.  The deliberate selection of  your counselor or therapist based on an informed decision is an important factor.  The following is a list of questions that will help you select the best counselor or psychotherapist.  How well your counselor or therapist answers these questions and how you feel in the process will help you make the best decision.

  • Are you licensed or supervised?
  • What is your license or who is your supervisor?
  • Have you ever had an ethical complaint filed and sustained by your State Licensing Board?
  • How long should counseling or psychotherapy for this particular issue take?
  • How will I know if my child is benefiting from counseling or psychotherapy?
  • How will we know and what will we do if counseling and psychotherapy isn't working?
  • How will I know when it is time to stop?
  • What are your qualifications to work with this particular problem?
  • When was the last time you successfully resolved a similar case?
  • Can you provide me with a reference from a former client or patient?
    [ Some patients will offer to act as a reference following the successful completion of treatment.  An ethical therapist will not give your name as a reference without your permission. ]
  • Do you consult with other professionals?
  • How can I know you are the right person to work with?
  • Do you have a written policy and information handout?
  • What are the limits of confidentiality if I allow my child to work with you?
  • How much will this cost per session (or weekly) and what is the estimated overall cost?
  • Should I use my insurance or pay out of pocket?
  • Is there a significant risk that my HMO, insurance of managed care company will restrict my treatment or terminate payment before my therapy is completed?
  • What is your availability if I need to reschedule?
  • Does someone cover for you when you are unavailable?
  • Do I have to talk about things I don’t want to?

These sort of questions are all reasonable and fair questions to ask.  Asking these questions in person will help in your selection of a counselor or psychotherapist.  Professionals should be comfortable and willing to discuss any questions you might have and go over any other issues that are important to you.   Professionals should  have a written handout or pamphlet that will answer most of these  questions and describe their practice in some detail.