Questions to Ask a Therapist Before You Schedule Your First Appointment

Finding the right therapist (counselor) makes all the difference.  Everyone has a different style and different parameters they work within.  For example, some therapists take insurance and some don't.  Some have evening hours, some work with children, some work with specific types of diagnoses, and some work virtually.  All of these differences ensure there is a therapist out there to fit just about everyone, but it is important that you know who you are scheduling with. 

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Since every therapist is different, you might want to know what their style is.  That can include everything from what psycho-therapeutic techniques they use such as Cognitive Behavioral or Solution-Focused to how direct they are.  If you just want someone to listen while you process things, that would be a very different type of therapist than one who gives you exercises and homework to do.  Your choice can only be based on what you think will work for you.

Some therapists see clients weekly.  Some have the option, if you have the need, of seeing clients twice per week for a while and yet some prefer an every other week or a monthly schedule.  Again, this depends on the therapist and how they feel they get the best results for their clients. 

The length of sessions is also a good question.  Many book an hour leaving a few minutes in between clients to do their notes.  Some have half hour sessions, some can be 45 minutes.  This is important not only because of your scheduling, but it can also affect insurance coverage so you'll want to know before you call your insurance.

Teletherapy is becoming more common and is now being covered by many insurance companies.  This is done on special secure web-based platforms that allow the therapist and client to meet in a format similar to a Skype video call and can add convenience for those who cannot make it in to an office due to a disability or driving distance. 

If you are hoping to use your health insurance to cover fees, that is an important question to address with your potential therapist.  Not only do you want to know if they take insurance, but what insurances they take.  An important call to make in addition to asking your potential therapist if they take insurance is to call your insurance company and check from their side if your therapy will be covered, what your deductible is, and what your co-pay is.  Not only is each insurance company different, but each policy is different as well.

Regardless of whether you are paying with or without insurance, it is a good idea to ask the therapist's fees.  Many therapists charge the client for no-shows or late cancellations.  Since insurance does not cover those, you will be responsible for those.  Also, out of network therapists may charge the insurance company but you are responsible for the difference.  Looking for the lowest fee counselor however, may not be in your best interest.  Counselor's fees often rise as they specialize and gain experience.  They also rise as a counselor's demand rises.  This means that the "cheapest" therapist may actually cost you more in time and money if they don't have the expertise to help you in your situation and the "expensive" therapist may actually be your best value because you get the help you need in the most efficient manner.  Counselors should all be open to questions to find the best fit so feel free to ask these before you schedule.