Checklist: Questions to Ask Potential Therapists

By Peg Rosen

You’ve decided that your child with learning and thinking differences could benefit from emotional counseling. But how do you know who’s right for the job? Start by scheduling a phone or face-to-face interview with a mental health counselor or therapist you’re considering. Most practitioners won’t charge you for this initial discussion. You can use this list to help you decide what to ask and consider as you make your choice.

Credentials and Background

  • Are you licensed to provide mental health treatment in this state? In what specific areas are you licensed?

  • What education and degrees do you have that qualify you to practice psychotherapy?

  • What is your specific area of expertise?

  • How many years have you been practicing?

  • How many years have you been treating children?

  • What is your experience with children who have learning and thinking differences?

  • Do you have experience treating children with my child’s specific challenges?

  • Can you prescribe medication? If not, do you work or collaborate with a pediatric specialist who does?

  • Do you take a religious or spiritual approach in therapy? If so, what is it?

Policies and Practice

  • Will you want to meet with me as well as with my child?

  • How much will you share with me about what you and my child discuss?

  • How often will you want to speak with me about my child?

  • How do you feel about medicating children?

  • What methods do you use with children in your practice?

Finances and Practical Concerns

  • What are your fees?

  • Do you accept my insurance? Medicaid?

  • Do you charge on a sliding scale if patients have financial issues?

  • Do I pay at each session or will I be billed monthly?

  • How long is each session?

  • What is your cancellation policy if we can’t make an appointment?

  • Will you be able to see my child before or after school?

  • Will you want to observe my child at school? If so, what do you charge for that?

  • Are you OK with speaking to me by phone, if necessary? What about communicating via email?

  • Do you charge for phone or email conversations?

  • How often do you leave town or go on vacation? Will someone be covering for you while you’re gone?

Questions to Ask Yourself

  • Did I feel comfortable talking with this therapist?

  • Was this therapist respectful of my parenting style and perspectives?

  • Did this therapist have a good grasp of how learning and thinking differences affect children emotionally?

  • Did I walk away with a feeling of trust and confidence in this therapist? Would my child feel comfortable spending time with this therapist?

Choosing a counselor for your child is an important decision. Refer to this list during your search. And learn more about the types of emotional help available for your child.

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