How to Find The Right Therapist: 19 Questions You Can Ask

Medically reviewed by: Wendy Rasmussen, PhD
Monday, June 6 2022

If you're considering therapy for the first time, you likely have a lot of questions about how the process will work or what therapy looks like. One of many questions you'll have is "how to find the right therapist" to ensure you are able to accomplish your goals through therapy. Directing these questions to your therapist is completely normal and highly recommended — they should be more than willing to answer your questions about specialty, availability, expectations, and everything in between.

If you think of questions during your search for a therapist or before your first session, it may be beneficial to write them down, so you feel equipped during your first meeting. If you're unsure what to ask, here are some questions that may be helpful. Also, be sure to check out your first therapy session FAQ.

Determining the basics of finding the right therapist

You’ll probably want to know the practical information about your therapist, including their training, schedule, and payment options. Here are a few questions that can help you identify a therapist who meets your practical needs: 

1. What is your specialty or area of expertise?

2. What is your license type?

3. How long have you been practicing?

4. What is your availability?

5. Do you have a cancellation policy?

6. How much do you charge per session? 

7. Do you accept my insurance?

8. If I don’t have insurance, what are other ways I can pay for therapy?

If you are looking for specialty competencies, such as 2STNB, LGBTQ+ or veteran expertise, be sure to ask what experience, training, or certifications they have to ensure you will receive the specialized care you need. 

If your therapist is in the SonderMind network, these questions will be answered before your first appointment. 

Finding a therapist who's the right fit

Finding a therapist who’s the right fit for you means you’ll have to speak up on what’s important to you. Think about what you’re looking for in a therapist and communicate your preferences. Remember that sometimes a therapist may not check all of your boxes. That doesn’t mean they’re not the right fit for you and won’t be able to help you.  It might take a little bit of exploration and trial and error, and that’s ok. 

Some questions you can ask to find the right therapist include:

9. Have you helped people with the same mental health challenges as me?

10. What is your approach to therapy

11. What do you think your strengths are as a therapist, and how would those strengths apply to my mental health condition?

12.Do you give your clients homework

13. If so, what type of assignments do you commonly give?

14. How should I communicate with you outside of sessions (phone, email, etc.)?

As you start developing a relationship with your therapist, you’ll want to have a solid therapeutic alliance. The therapeutic alliance refers to the quality of the relationship between you and your therapist. A solid therapeutic alliance is critical to achieving the goals you want in therapy. You can read more about it here.


Setting expectations and tracking progress with your therapist

Therapy usually doesn’t last forever. In many cases, it might last for a set duration of time or through a specific life event. Being able to set expectations and track your progress is an important part of developing strong mental health. 

Here are a few questions to ask to learn more about how your therapist approaches setting expectations and tracking progress:

15. If therapy is not working for me, will you be willing to acknowledge that and suggest alternative solutions? Here’s how you can tell if therapy is working for you.

16. Would you be willing to recommend other local professionals who could help me if that discussion arises?

17. How often would you like to meet with me, and for how long?

18. How are you going to assess my progress?

19. How quickly do you think I will start noticing my progress?

These questions are a general guide, and any other questions that come to your mind before or during your therapy sessions are valid and worth asking. The more questions you ask your therapist, the easier it will be to determine if your therapist is the right fit for you.

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