What questions to ask a psychologist

Only about half of Americans diagnosed with major depression receive treatment for it, according to a 2010 survey supported by the National Institute of Mental Health. There are a wide variety of factors for that shocking number, including cost, availability, and access, but it certainly doesn’t help that finding a good therapist is a challenging and anxiety-producing situation. 

To lessen that apprehension find out whether a therapist’s professional style and approach will help you achieve your goals before you lie down on the couch for your first full session. Think of hiring a therapist like buying a new car or house—you have to do your research. And the more research you do, the more comfortable you’ll feel during therapy, and the more likely you’ll be to stick with it.

Most therapists offer a 15-minute consultation where you can explain your objectives and ask them questions. Here are the top questions you should ask a therapist before making an appointment. 

Basic Questions to Ask a Prospective Therapist

It’s often uncomfortable to talk with a physician about cost or their credentials—but both those topics can have a momentous effect on your ability to continue to seek treatment and the trust you place in your provider. Plus, any therapist worth their salt will be happy to openly discuss pricing, insurance, and other practical matters. After all, if you’re stressed about making payments, you’re only adding to your troubles.

  • How long have you been practicing?

  • What licenses and certifications do you have and which professional organizations do you belong to?

  • How much do you charge? What are you sliding-scale options?

  • How many clients have you had with similar circumstances to my own? When was the last time you worked with someone similar to me?

  • Describe your ideal patient.

Is This Therapist a Good Fit?

It’s important to find a therapist that meshes with your personality. If you’re nervous about starting therapy, perhaps a more guided approach to meet your goals is best. Or, if you’re a therapy veteran, maybe a direct route is appropriate. And don’t be afraid to ask a potential therapist about their own personal experiences with therapy—a good therapist believes in their field and knows what it’s like to be the one lying on the couch.  

  • What are your strengths and limitations as a counselor?

  • What is your general philosophy and approach to helping? Are you more directive or more guiding?

  • Have you been in therapy yourself? How recently?

  • How often do you seek peer consultation?


Setting Goals For Therapy

Congratulations! You’ve passed the first hurdle—seeking help. That’s a big deal, and you should be proud of yourself. Now you need to jot down some goals to discuss with your potential therapist so you can continue to jump those hurdles going forward. By creating goals, you increase the value of your time in therapy and set yourself up for success!

  • How often would you anticipate seeing me? For how long?

  • How do you set up counseling goals? What are they like? What is success for you?

  • What is typical session like? How long are the sessions?

  • What kind of homework/reading do you give patients?

  • How do I prepare for my first session?

Mollie Bloudoff-IndelicatoMollie Bloudoff-IndelicatoMollie Bloudoff-Indelicato

Mollie Bloudoff-Indelicato is a freelance science, health, and environment reporter based in Washington, DC, whose work has appeared in National Geographic, NPR, Scientific American, The Atlantic, Newsweek, and Nature.

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?

While certain titles, such as “psychologist” or “psychiatrist” are protected terms that can only be used by a person with that specific advanced degree, anyone, regardless of training or lack thereof, can call themselves a “counselor” or “therapist”. So, it’s important to make sure that the person you are seeing is a licensed mental health provider (e.g. Licensed psychologist, Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Licensed Professional Counselor, etc.) Having an active professional license means not only that the person has an advanced degree and training in providing therapy services, but it also means that their professional activities are regulated by a state Board that ensures adherence to local, state and federal legal and ethical standards.

2. What are your areas of expertise/specialization? 

Many therapists are generalists; they see folks struggling with a wide variety of different types of difficulties. Other therapists tend to have a particular area of specialization or expertise. You may want to get more information about this from potential therapists.

3. “I am here because X (e.g. I am feeling stressed, I’m having panic attacks, I lost a person close to me, I think I might be depressed) , and I’m having trouble (at work, at home, in social situations, sleeping). 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.)?

4. How many years have you been seeing clients?

Asking how many years a therapist has been seeing clients versus how many years they have been “in practice” or “working” can be helpful because of the difference in length of training for the different disciplines. For example, while a psychologist resident may have only officially received their doctorate recently, because of how long the training is for psychologists, they have likely been seeing clients for at least 4-5 years already, which may actually be much more clinical experience than someone with a different degree who finished their official training several years ago.

5. What is your approach to therapy?

There are many different theoretical orientations from which therapists practice. Some focus more on helping the person gain insight through exploring the past. Others focus more on helping individuals make concrete behavior changes in their life now. You can learn more about this by asking a potential therapist what their approach to therapy is.

  1. What is the evidence for your particular type of therapy with situations similar to mine? How do you know if treatment is working, and what do you do when it doesn’t work?

No one wants to be in endless, ongoing therapy if it’s not helpful. So, it is important to ask a potential therapist from the outset to talk about the evidence (hopefully scientific, empirical evidence, not just anecdotal) there is that the approach they are taking with you is actually effective. This is what is known as evidence-based therapy or science-based therapy (for more about the difference between those terms, see

7. 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?

8. How much do you charge? Do you accept my insurance (be sure to clarify if they will be submitting your insurance billing or if you will be required to do that on your own) ? Do you have availability in the (mornings, afternoons, evenings, weekends)? When’s the earliest date that I can see you for our first appointment?

9. 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?

Are you going to meet a psychologist in the near future, but stuck on what questions to ask a Psychologist?

Do you know, Over 9 crore Indians, or 7.5 percent of the country’s population of 1.3 billion, suffer from some form of psychological issues, according to the World Health Organization(WHO) report.

However, the percentage could be much higher, as suggested by the findings of a countrywide 2015-2016 study by India’s National Institute of Mental Health & Neurosciences (NIMHANS).

There are several types of psychological issues like; Mental Health, Depression, Anxiety, ADHD, Autism, or not able to choose the best career. Then you must consult a psychologist near you or online.

But the point is If you are stuck on what questions to ask a psychologist; then you’re at the right place. In this post, we are going to tell you what questions to ask a psychologist on different kinds of psychological disorders.

1. Mental Health

The mind is a vital part of the human body, which means everyone must eat a healthy diet, follow exercises, or yoga on daily basis to safeguard mental health from disorders.

As per the Global Burden of Disease report for mental health in India, mental disorders account for 13% of total diseases found in any human being.

You should know that one in seven Indians were affected by mental disorders of varying severity in 2017.

So, If you think you are facing a mental health disorder, then…

Questions to ask a Psychologist on Mental Health

1. What causes mental health disorders?
2. What are the symptoms of a mental health disorder?
3. How can mental health struggle manifest me physically?
4. How can mental health affect my sleep?
5. What kind of lifestyle changes can help with my symptoms of mental health disorder?
6. What might progress with my mental health look like?
7. Are there any topics of conversation I should avoid?
8. Are there any behaviors I can change to avoid causing further harm?
9. What is the general time frame in which most patients see results?
10. What is the best way to improve my mental well-being?
11. What should I do in a mental health disorder emergency?
12. Will the psychologists prescribe me medicines?

Infographic explaining the main causes and symptoms of a mental health disorder:

2. Depression:

Depression is a major health problem and we feel weakness or negative personality conditions.

As per the World Health Organization report worldwide more than 264 million people are affected with depression. It can lead to suicide and close to 800 000 people die due to suicide every year.

Between 76% and 85% of people in low- and middle-income countries receive no treatment for their disorder. 43 percent of Indians suffer from depression, according to a new study.

Conducted by GOQii, a smart-tech-enabled preventive healthcare platform, the study surveyed over 10,000 Indians to understand how they have been coping with the new normal.

So, If you think you are facing depression, then…

Questions to ask a Psychologist on Depression:

1. What causes depression?
2. What are the symptoms of depression?
3. What kind of depression do I have?
4. How might depression affect my appetite and weight?
5. How could depression affect my sleep?
6. What kind of lifestyle changes will help with my symptoms of depression?
7. Is depression hereditary?
8. Do I need medicine to treat my depression?
9. Do the symptoms of depression need special treatment?
10. What should I do in a depression emergency

Infographic explaining the main causes of depression:

3. Anxiety:

Are you worried about each and everything that happens in your life? If it’s happening on regular basis then it can be a symptom of anxiety.

According to a study in 2017, an estimated 264 million people worldwide experienced anxiety disorders and across the world, it varies from 2.5 to 7 percent by country.

So, If you are unable to live your life up to the mark you have imagined; then please consider consulting a Psychologist.

However, here is a list of questions to ask a psychologist about anxiety.

Questions to ask a psychologist on anxiety:

1. causes anxiety?
2. What are the symptoms of anxiety?
3. If anxiety occurs too often then will it have harmful effects on my body and life?
4. How to stay socially active during anxiety?
5. How to change my attitude towards people around me?
6. Will medicines be prescribed to me?
7. How often, I should exercise or Yoga?
8. What type of diet, I follow to keep my mind and body active?

4. ADHD:

People with ADHD may have trouble paying attention, controlling impulsive behaviors, or being overly active. Although ADHD can’t be cured, it can be successfully managed and some symptoms may improve as the child ages.

The estimated number of children ever diagnosed with ADHD, according to a national 2016 parent survey, around is 6.1 million affected by ADHD.

This number includes 388,000 children aged 2–5 years. 2.4 million children aged 6–11 years(SOURCE of this study). ADHD is not curable However, it can be improved by consulting a psychologist

Questions to ask a psychologist on ADHD:

1. What is ADHD?
2. How is ADHD diagnosed?
3. What causes ADHD?
4. What are the symptoms of ADHD?
5. What other conditions can occur with ADHD?
6. Does ADHD need medication, or can it be treated effectively without it?
7. When can my child expect to notice improvements in how he feels?
8. Is there a medication that my child can take on an as-needed basis, such as when he needs to focus or concentrate?
9. How does ADHD affect an adult’s work or job?
10. How effective are medication-free treatments?
11. What could the workplace or my employer do to help with my ADHD

Infographic explaining how to manage your kid’s ADHD at home:

5. Autism:

Are you facing challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech and nonverbal communication? It can be a symptom of autism.

According to a world health organization report worldwide, one in 160 children suffers from ASD. So if you are thinking to consult a psychologist then,

Questions to ask a Psychologist on Autism:

1. What causes autism?
2. What are the symptoms of autism?
3. What other conditions can occur with autism?
4. How can I encourage communication skills in my child?
5. Are there ways to help my child get more sleep at night?
6. What are my child’s strengths and how can they be maximized?
7. How can it be diagnosed?
8. What kind of medicine will be prescribed by the Doctor

So in this post, you have learned the most asked questions to a psychologist about different kinds of psychological issues that people face often.

Please keep in mind that the relationship with the psychologist is strictly ethical and professional and aimed towards treatment. If there is a breach in boundaries, the therapist is at liberty to terminate the therapeutic alliance.

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