Psychotherapy is a partnership between a person and a psychologist that is designed to help a person overcome his/her difficulties. It offers a supportive environment where feelings and worries can be shared in an honest and confidential way.
Professional psychologists are highly trained in the assessment and treatment of mental health concerns, addressing problematic behavior patterns (e.g., smoking, relationship difficulties, excessive worry), and the use of behavior change strategies.
Professional psychologists follow a strong code of ethical standards and abide by the state’s laws that regulate their profession; however, picking the right psychologist can be tricky. There are people who label themselves as “therapists” who may not have the appropriate training and credentials to best help others.
To help you find the right psychologist and to protect you from potential harm, here are 8 questions you should ask any psychologist you are considering:
1. Are you a licensed psychologist in this state? Is your license active and in good standing?
2. Where did you get your degree? What type of training or clinical experiences have you had in treating the kinds of problems I am having (mood problems, anxiety, sleep difficulties, etc.)?
3. How many years have you been seeing clients?
4. What is/are your areas of expertise?
5. I am here because (I am feeling stressed, I feel sad, I lost a person close to me, I feel disoriented), and I’m having trouble (at work, at home, in social situations, sleeping). What has been your experience treating this kind of problem?
6. What type of treatments do you use? How effective are they in dealing with situations similar to mine? How do you know if treatment is working, and what do you do when it doesn’t work?
7. How much do you charge? Do you accept my insurance? Do you have availability in the (mornings, afternoons, evenings, weekends)? When’s the earliest date that I can see you for our first appointment?
8. Does your work in therapy tend to be more focused on the past or the present? Do you tend to see people for long-term therapy or for shorter-term therapy?