Important Questions To Ask When Choosing A Counselor

Questions to ask yourself before you begin your search for a counselor:

  1. If I had to summarize why I want to go to counseling, what is the reason? What do I want to see change? (i.e. “I want to be happier?” Or, “I want a better marriage.”) It could be that you don’t know. That is ok, as long as you know that you don’t know.

  2. Have I seen a counselor in the past? What did I like or not like about them? What was the most helpful to me?

  3. Am I primarily a cognitive person (left brained) or imaginative/emotional person (right brained)?

  4. Answer the question, “I’m convinced if ___________ changed, everything would be better.”

  5. How willing am I to look at things I’d rather not see and pretend aren’t real?

  6. Have I been completely honest with anyone? Who? Could I be completely honest with a therapist? Who do they need to be for me to be honest with them? What things don’t I want to talk about? What do I want to keep hidden?

  7. When was my last physical examination?

  8. How is my diet?

  9. Am I taking the prescriptions I am supposed to take in the way I am supposed to take them?

  10. What are the changes that have occurred that make me want to see a counselor?

Questions to ask as you interview therapists & after the first two sessions:

  1. Ask, “How do you think real lasting change occurs?” This simple question will tell you how the therapist views people in the world. There is no “right answer” to the question. And, it needs to be asked. For some change occurs when thoughts and behaviors are changed. For others, change occurs through relationships, etc…

  2. In my interview with them, were they active or passive? How did I feel about how they interacted with me?

  3. Is this someone with whom I could feel safe? Do I feel safe with them?

  4. Does the therapist create psychic space or does the space smaller? Do I need a larger or a smaller space?

  5. Do you get a sense that the counselor can handle whatever emotions you throw at them? Could they handle the full force of your fury?

  6. Ask, “What things that you believe about humans are most important for me to know?

  7. “How many sessions do you think we will need to meet?”

  8. “What should I expect from you?”

  9. “What do you expect from me?”

  10. “Do you give homework? If so, what kind?”

  11. Ask (and then check) “Have you ever had a complaint filed against you by a client? For what?” What is important here is not if they have had a complaint or not. Lots of amazing therapists have complaints against them, but rather, how they handle the question. Are they defensive and on guard? Do they back away from you psychically?

  12. Did you feel as if you were an equal to your therapist or if you were talking to an expert who had the answers?

  13. How did they listen to you?

  14. Are they more “rigid,” or, “relaxed?” Do you need “rigid,” or, “relaxed?”

  15. Is your relationship with them “easy,” or, “difficult?” Is it a relationship that will encourage you to change?

Stephen Grant