7 questions to ask a therapist that don’t have to be confrontational


Making the decision to go to a therapist is an important and important step in your mental health care journey. But you can also have a lot of questions – before and during the therapy process – and that’s okay. Ask your therapist questions is an essential part of the process.

Sometimes you may feel like you don’t know what to ask them or that you are not qualified to question certain things. But this is not true. Your therapist is a professional, but you are the experts on your body, your mind and the circumstances of your life. You have a lot to learn from your therapist about coping skills, unpacking the trauma, To manage stress, and communicate in your relationships. And your therapist has a lot to learn from you, including your background, concerns, needs, and expectations. Sometimes they will cover this up by asking their own questions. But other times, the questions you choose to ask them will reveal a lot to both of you.

“Because so many [therapists] come from different backgrounds and teaching philosophies, it is important to understand from which objective the therapist is looking ”, therapist Celeste Viciere, LMHC, facilitator of Celeste the therapist podcast, says Bustle. Then, “you can judge whether it might be right for you or not.”

Asking questions and confirming aspects of the treatment can be reassuring. And it also helps your therapist treat you better. For the questions below, you can ask them if this is your first session, your third or your 30th. You never know how the answers might help you.


What is your area of ​​expertise?

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When it comes to therapists, one size fits all not adapt to all, in particular according to their specialty. For example, sex therapists can help you deal with complicated sexuality issues including counseling, intimacy issues, and past trauma without shaming you. Some mental health professionals specialize in specific conditions, such as post-traumatic stress disorder, bipolar disorder, and dissociative identity disorder, among others.

For Vicière, who is a cognitive behavioral therapist, this is a great question to ask your therapist. Viciere tells Bustle, “It’s kind of impossible to enjoy being a guru in all areas of mental health and psychology,” and that patients need to understand what their therapist’s “strengths” are. Or maybe someone with a history of marriage and family counseling can help you get through tough times with your loved ones or improve communication with them.

If you know you have specific therapy needs, it may be helpful to ask more questions about your therapist’s experience in this area.


What is your philosophy of care?

Most healthcare providers have a Philosophy of Care, which is a set of core values ​​that shows you how your provider views their own roles and responsibilities. To verify this one from Yale Health to get an idea of ​​what this looks like. Some care philosophies will also give you insight into specific methods and treatments your therapist might suggest.


3. How will we monitor my progress?

I know from experience that sometimes talk therapy can seem like it’s getting nowhere. You may have been in therapy with a specific goal in mind: to reduce anxiety, improve communication with your partner, or manage depression. Maybe you are looking for instant results or you are frustrated that you have to face the same issues. But that doesn’t always mean therapy isn’t working; after all, the healing is not linear.

Viciere tells Bustle that “It’s OK to check in with your therapist and say, ‘I don’t feel like things are moving forward for me. “It might not be the therapist, the client might have some assumptions about how things work in therapy. But being able to say what you think is going on in the sessions is important.”

However, it can be reassuring for you to know how your therapist is monitoring your progress, so that you know more clearly when and if it is time for you to. stop therapy. And if you’re unhappy with the way your therapist plans to track your progress, it might be time to move on.


I may not be able to pay the fees; Are there more affordable options?

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Therapy can be expensive, and the fees for a session can be triple digits, according to the Talkspace.com mental health app. And sometimes you may come across unexpected situations that can make paying these fees more difficult. If you think it might be too much of an expense right now, you can ask your therapist if their practice offers a sliding scale option or if it would be healthy for you to come twice a month instead of weekly.


What is your experience of working with people from my racial / ethnic group?

According to American Psychological Association, 86% of American psychologists were white in 2015. So if you are a person who does not identify as white, you may need to see a therapist who does not share this experience with you. You can ask your therapist if he has worked with people of marginalized ethnic identities before, especially if it is important for you to have someone who understands your unique cultural background. If you want to talk about problems in therapy related to identifying with a marginalized group, look for a culturally competent therapist might be helpful to you. If you don’t think this is right for you, it might be time to go.


Is this a safe space where I can talk about discrimination, inequality and oppression?

When you identify with yourself as a member of a marginalized group, you may face obstacles that you find frustrating and unfair, and those obstacles will likely arise in therapy. But if you have a therapist who isn’t comfortable having these conversations, it can be very difficult to resolve them together. It is worth seeing your therapist and asking if they will be able to engage in intense conversations about racism, homophobia, transphobia, and classism.


What are your policies on involuntary admission?


Sometimes when a patient is in crisis they may need to be involuntarily admitted at a hospital. This is a measure meant to maintain patient safety, and as I reported earlier for Bustle, it can often save lives. However, in that same report, I also found that some women felt their experiences were negative, often due to poor communication between them and the therapist who recommended that they be admitted against their will. It is worth having a conversation with your therapist about how they would go about getting a patient to be admitted against their will, including indicating whether you feel comfortable with calling authorities, or if there is a specific hospital you would like to go to if your therapist determines you are in crisis.


Asking questions can seem overwhelming and embarrassing. But remember, your therapist is here to help you. And you don’t have to stop asking questions. This is a great way to make sure your therapist is doing their work and get closer to your mental health goals. As Viciere says, “Whether or not you think you are going to offend your therapist or not, ultimately, is why you are there for yourself, your healing and your growth.” ”

If you or someone you know is looking for help with mental health issues, visit National Alliance for Mental Health (NAMI) website, or dial 1-800-950-NAMI (6264). For confidential referrals to treatment, visit the Addiction and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) or call the national helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357). In an emergency, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or call 911.


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