Therapy is a collaboration between you and your therapist. That means that you’re an active participant in your treatment and your therapist is there to guide you toward your goals.
When you start out in therapy, there are questions you can ask to help you choose a therapist who’s right for you. As you go through therapy, it’s important to keep asking questions so you are actively participating in your mental health care and making sure that you’re getting the care that’s best for you.
Here are a couple questions you can ask your therapist during therapy. These are intended to help you get started and may help you think of other questions that are important to you.
How long is my therapy going to last?
The length of time for therapy is different for each person. It depends on how you’re doing, your diagnosis and treatment, and progress toward your goals. Your therapist can let you know how you’re doing and give you a game plan on your therapy and treatment.
How am I doing toward reaching my goals?
When you started therapy, you and your therapist set goals. You can always ask your therapist anytime how you’re progressing toward your goals. Knowing your progress can help you understand the work you still need to do and what your therapist is doing. You may be asked to complete questionnaires along the way to help your therapist gauge your progress.
What if my goals change?
It’s okay for your goals to change during therapy. Sometimes life events happen. You might have landed a new job. Or you’re now expecting a baby. Or you went through a traumatic event. Or maybe you’ve recently moved and are going through the stresses of relocating. Talk to your therapist. You’ll work together with them to adjust your goals if needed. And your therapist will adjust their treatment approach if needed to help you meet your goal. Remember that open and honest communication with your therapist is important to your treatment success.
What can or should I be doing in between therapy sessions?
You are an active participant in your mental health care. That means that the hard work of therapy happens in between sessions when you apply what you’ve learned to your day-to-day life. Your therapist may give you assignments or things to do outside of sessions. If they don’t, you can always ask if there are things you can be doing to make sure that the work you do during therapy sessions also happens outside of sessions.
What should I work on this week?
Your therapist will work with you on long-term end goals. They will also work with you on shorter-term goals that will help reach your end goals. If it helps for you to have daily or weekly goals, ask for them. Your therapist will work with you to develop a plan that is doable and works for you.
What can I do if I feel the treatment isn’t working for me?
If you feel like a particular approach isn’t working for you, it’s absolutely okay to talk to your therapist about it. Your therapist may adjust their approach or find another approach that works better for you. There are many treatment approaches in therapy. What works for one person may not work for another. Your therapist may offer you additional or alternate treatment options.
How do I know when to stop or pause therapy if I’m feeling good?
The length of therapy is different for each person. How long it takes depends on the severity of your concern and progress toward your end goals [link to When to Stop Therapy article]. Ask your therapist about your progress toward your goals. If you both agree that you’re making good progress and have even reached your goals, it could be a good time to pause or end therapy. Just remember to keep that open communication and talk candidly to your therapist.
What can I do if my relationship with my therapist isn’t going so well?
The therapeutic alliance — the relationship with your therapist — is one of the most important things that can affect the success of your therapy. If you feel like the relationship with your therapist isn’t quite working out the way you wanted it to, it’s okay. That can happen. Maybe your therapist said something that rubbed you the wrong way. Maybe as you progress you realize that your therapist isn’t the right fit for you. You can always be upfront with your therapist. You can let them know if something they said offended you. Or if you didn’t understand something they said and need more clarification.
If you want to change therapists, that’s okay too. You can always get rematched with another therapist who’s a better fit for you. It’s important to be open and upfront with your therapist so you can be successful at therapy. Your therapist will not get mad or upset with you. They can even help you identify what you’re looking for so you can find another therapist who you feel comfortable with.
Participate in your care
There are no right or wrong questions, only the ones that you want to ask. Knowing how you’re doing in therapy or what else to expect is important to help you prepare for your next session or knowing where you are in your therapy. The goal is for you to be informed, and to be an active participant in your therapy journey.