10 Questions for Vetting a Potential Therapist
Ten Suggested Questions and Therapist Directory Links to Help you Find your Next Therapist
Finding a new therapist can be a daunting task any time, but it can be especially overwhelming when you’re already burntout, or depressed, or just survived trauma, or experienced a pile of old pain plop itself directly in front of you to deal with NOW.
I’ve put together a list of questions that you might ask a prospective therapist in order to help you find a best possible fit. This is not an exhaustive list, but a place to start. These are all questions I have asked of therapists or have been asked of me when I was practicing as a licensed therapist. I always encouraged clients to ask me whatever they needed to in order to make an informed decision. Remember, you are hiring a therapist to do a really important job, it’s absolutely appropriate to interview them for that role!
In general, licensed therapists can only see clients living in states in which they are licensed. Some therapists have multiple licenses or licenses that allow them to see clients in multiple states like PSYPACT states. I recommend starting by searching for therapists licensed in your state (more on that later). Licensed therapists have state board regulations to follow including marketing integrity standards; therapists who have active licenses in good standing will have that information clearly available on their website and directory page. It’s a red flag if you can’t find any information about a person’s credentials.
Once you find a couple therapists that meet your initial criteria, below are some sample questions you might ask to get a better sense of whether or not you will jibe with this person and will feel safe enough from the start, to begin building a therapeutic relationship.
Questions to ask when Interviewing a Potential Therapist:
Ask about Therapist Identity.
For many folks who embody targeted identities and multiple intersections of said identities, Therapist Identity is an important factor in deciding with whom you want to work. For example, when I was practicing as a therapist I was clear about being a queer, fat, Autistic, ADHD, disabled, anti-racist therapist whose pronouns are she/they. This is one of the very first examples of what can help you filter candidates.
Ask about the therapist’s values & philosophy.
For example, do they align with the medical model or are they working to deconstruct that in their practice? Are their practices trauma informed? Do they work from a justice-oriented perspective? What kind of work are they doing personally and professional to decolonize their practice and to dismantle systems of oppression?
Ask about what they are doing to actively deconstruct ableist ideaology and practice from their work and self.
Ask about how they create accessibility.
If sessions will be in person, you might ask:
- Are there gender neutral bathrooms available?
- Is there an elevator?
- Does the therapist have awareness of diverse sensory needs like lighting, temp, smells, etc?
- Does the therapist have animals in their office as therapy animals? (This may be a trigger or may aggravate allergies).
- Is there adequate, affordable, and accessible parking?
- Is the office near or on a bus/metro route?
- Can a wheelchair fit in and maneuver around the therapy office?
For telehealth sessions, you might ask:
- Does their video platform offer closed captioning?
- Is the therapist open to sessions with no camera?
- If client isn’t able to be verbal is there a secure chat messaging feature available?
Ask about their idea of the Client-Therapist relationship.
Is it collaborative or hierarchical? Is their work “client-centered” or “client lead” vs. “therapist as expert” approach?
Ask about their specific experience and training in the area you want support.
How many other clients have they worked with with those same needs? Can they talk about their specialized training, continuing professional development, and consultation they pursue around this topic?
For example, a therapist might have “LGBTQ+ friendly” on their bio or website but it’s important to ask more about that. What is their relationship to the queer community? Do they work from an actively affirming and inclusive perspective? How much training, supervision/consultation have they had in this area? Do they have any lived-experience?
Another example is trauma. **Not all therapist work from a trauma-informed place.** And sadly, not all who claim to be trauma-informed actually are. Specifically ask how they approach trauma work
Ask about what modalities they practice. If you are Autistic and/or ADHD modalities like CBT and DBT are not always the best fit.
Ask what specific kinds of trauma does a therapist work with.
These are specialized areas that require extra training, lived-experience, and personal healing work on the part of the therapist: complex trauma, developmental (childhood family of origin) trauma, religious trauma, survivors of ABA treatment and/or conversion therapy, refugee trauma, trafficking trauma, veteran trauma, interpersonal violence/domestic violence, racial trauma, colonizer trauma, survivors of homeschooling trauma…etc.
Ask if they see their own therapist and how important their own wellness practices are to their professional work?
A green flag to look for is a therapist who is in continual work of personal growth and development. Therapists and Coaches have a deep responsibility to continue investing in our own health, wellness, and growth in order to show up as our best, ethical, present selves.
Ask about what books are they reading?
Who are they learning from right now? What interesting trainings have they attended lately?
As you read their website do you resonate?
Does their copy sound like who you want to work with or does it feel detached and generic? Do you get a sense of that therapist’s energy, approach, style enough to want to schedule an initial call with them? Do they have a blog – what kinds of things do they write about?
Therapist Directories and Related Sites
This is by no means an exhaustive list and will likely be updated from time to time. I am happy to help guide folks in this process so you can find a good fit and get on with the healing work you want to do!
My all time #1 go-to directory is Inclusive Therapists. It allows you to search specific areas like Therapist Identity, Insurance, Language, Areas of Experience, Therapy Modality (like EMDR, IFS, etc).
Racial Affinity Directories:
Non-Religious & Religious Trauma Focused:
Queer and Gender Expansive Affirming:
Lower Cost/Sliding Scale Fees:
- Open Path Collective
- Mental Health Liberation – free therapy for BIPOC
Where possible, I encourage you to stay away from “corporate online therapy” as you don’t have as much autonomy over who you work with, and they have a record of engaging exploitative pay practices with their therapist employees.
Are there other directories I’ve missed? Please let me know, I’m always wanting to expand the mental health resources available to folks!
If you need other resources for support, please visit my RESOURCES page.