Q & A about Choosing the Right Therapist for You and Your Family

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Contributed by Dr. Nina Woulff:

 

Question:

It has been suggested that I seek the help of a therapist – how would I go about finding a good therapist?

Answer:

There are a number of ways you can find a therapist. Physicians, teachers, clergy, friends and family members may offer you names of therapists. As well, some professional organizations will provide you with the names of therapists.


Question:

Is there a fee charged for seeing a therapist?

Answer:

If you meet with a therapist in private practice there usually will be a fee charged for each session, and if you see a hospital therapist or a psychiatrist there usually is no fee charged.


Question:

Why would someone go to a private practice therapist if seeing a hospital therapist is free?

Answer:

Sometimes there may be long waiting lists to be seen by a hospital therapist. As well, with hospital therapists you usually do not get to choose which therapist you are able to see and appointments may be limited. With private practice you can choose a specific therapist, often the wait time to be seen is shorter, and you can choose an appointment frequency that fits your needs.


Question:

If I get the names of several therapists how do I choose the right therapist for my family?

Answer:

Before you phone a therapist you need to consider some practical issues.

  • Do you need an evening appointment?
  • Are you able to pay for a private practice therapist?
  • Does the therapist need to be in a certain geographic location?
  • How quickly would you like to have an appointment?

The answers of these questions will help you narrow down the list. You may also wish to ask the therapist if they have experience treating the kind of problem you are experiencing.


Question:

What should I expect will happen in a first meeting with a therapist? Do I have to have something prepared?

Answer:

Most therapists simply expect that you speak about the reasons why you decided to seek their assistance. Before your first appointment it could be helpful to consider the following questions:

  • Why am I seeking the assistance of a therapist at this time?
  • What do I hope to achieve by working with a therapist?

In thinking about the answer to the second question try to envision how you want your life to be different , how you want to feel, think and act and how you would like others in your family to behave with you and each other.


Question:

What kind of questions will a therapist ask me?

Answer:

Many therapists will ask questions similar to the two above. As well, they may want to understand the history of the problems, when the problems started
and how they have changed over time. Sometimes you will be asked about how you deal with your problems, what solutions you have tried and the results of your efforts. As well, a therapist may ask you questions about how people in your family get along and whether you have any other kinds of stresses in your life (such as work or health problems).


Question:

What kind of questions can I ask a therapist?

Answer:

You should feel free to ask a therapist questions. Some questions you may wish answered might be:

  • What are the causes of my problems?
  • What needs to change in order for things to get better?
  • How long will therapy take?

Question:

How will I know if the therapist is the right one for me?

Answer:

Therapists have different personalities and some people prefer therapists that are talkative and explain many things. Other people prefer therapists who are patient listeners. Therapy is likely to be helpful when your questions are clearly answered, your feelings and wishes understood, and you start to feel hopeful that you and your therapist will be able to shape a better future for you and your family.

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