How to Evaluate a Therapist

How to Evaluate a Therapist

When looking for a therapist it’s important to know one size does not fit all and it is often a process of evaluation before you find a good fit. It’s also possible you may have more than one on your team. 
Your therapist will likely get to know you better than anyone except yourself, so it’s important to gauge their skill set, your comfort level, and your combined compatibility, to start. 
There are many different approaches, techniques, and personalities so the intention with this is to give you support and a reference guide for your sorting process. An incompatible therapist can set you back instead of moving you forward so it’s important to evaluate them from the get-go.


Here are the questions along with answers to help you and your process use this as a guideline. You can ask all the questions below or choose a few. Please feel free to email me with any additional questions

  1. What techniques do you most commonly use? A: Exposure and Directive can be a bit harsh, and challenging for recovery as they can be overwhelming and triggering. You will need to retell stories of trauma that can set off your nervous system, so this might not be the best approch.  Do they do Somatic body-based therapies or EMDR, ART, hypnotherapy, or haikomi which work with the nervous system and through the subconscious mind? Are more gentle in their approach. Do they incorporate mindfulness or feminism or spirituality? Ask them to explain.
  2. Am I able to lead the session based on what’s showing up or is their a tight structure they follow? A: depending on the technique you should be able to lead the sessions, and there are times when there is a specific structure where the following protocol is what creates success. Meeting you where your at should always come first.
  3. Are you familiar with_______ and let them know what you’re looking for help with ei:  depression, anxiety, attachment issues, narcissistic abuse, sexual abuse, repressed memories, loss, adverse family dynamics, grief, emotional overwhelm, childhood trauma,  PTSD, C-PTSD, stress, overwhelm, support etc.? A: They should say yes they are familiar, if not, they are not the therapist for you. Scroll to Part 2. Or refer to the next question.
  4. Have you ever helped someone like me before?  If so what techniques have you used? A: Yes, and have them explain any techniques you are not familiar with.
  5. What would your best piece of advice be for someone recovering/working through this kind of experience? A: look for compassion AND multiple ideas and options
  6. In sessions do you give advice? A: they should not give advice beyond the techniques they recommend. Beyond that, their job is to help you discover answers for yourself.
  7. Are you willing to refer out if we are not compatible or the techniques are not working? A: Not all therapists will be a good fit or have all the tools you need. You will want a therapist who wants your success more than dollars. 
  8. Are you available for emergency support between sessions? A: sometimes support is needed. And having this availability will help your process. Either a quick phone call or a session.
  9. Will you give me assignments or new coping techniques to try between sessions? A: This will change based on what you’re working through, and your therapist’s approach. Sometimes you will need integration time and other times you will have space to practice.
  10. Who is your ideal client? A: Ideally someone like you. And if not ask the question below
  11. Do you think you can support me? A:  Yes, and here is how…
  12. Cost: What is your rate. Many therapists have a pro-rated amount depending on your situation ei if you don’t have benefits.  You may want to ask if this is an option.

Part 2 : Checking in
Pay attention after your first interaction or If it’s in person, over the phone, or by email.  Go with your gut and intuition and ask yourself these questions

  1. How fast did I feel comfortable with this therapist? Did I ever get comfortable?
  2. Did I feel rushed?
  3. Did they get me from the start? Or did it take many different attempts and clarifications to help them understand what I was talking about? Do I feel they have a basic but clear understanding of me and what I want to work on?
  4. Did I understand the therapist’s thoughts and responses clearly, was there any discomfort in communication with a therapist?
  5. Would I feel judged by this person if I told them my deepest darkest secrets?
  6. How does the therapist make me feel?
  7. Do I feel safe on an emotional level with this person?
  8. Did we co-create a plan that feels supportive?
  9. Do I want to work with this person?

If the answer to the above was predominantly no you can thank them for their time and if your comfortable let them know you are not a good fit. 
If it was Yes, then congrats you have found a new team member!

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