You’ve used my simple guide to help you find a therapist, counselor, or other professional in Old Saybrook or along the shoreline, and now you need to know how to find the right fit! If you missed it the article on how to find a therapist in Old Saybrook, you can read it here!
Hopefully, you’ve identified a few therapists in Old Saybrook who seem like promising possibilities to help you meet your goals. When you pick up the phone to call the therapists or counselors on your list, what should you ask? What do you say? How will you know if it’s the right fit? I hope this article will help you take steps to finding a therapist or counselor who will be a great match for your needs.
Picking up the phone and scheduling your initial session is the most important step. After all, you’ve made it this far and you’re ready to connect with someone who can help you feel better, understand your pain, and hopefully help you transform what’s difficult into something you can handle in a new way. Now you need to follow through. But what’s that nagging voice in your head? You might be worrying you’ll have a bad experience, won't get what you need from it, or feel uncomfortable opening up. This is why it’s so important to find a therapist or counselor who is the best match for you.
It might be tempting to make a decision just based on who takes your insurance, whose office is closest to your home, or who can see you on a Saturday. Please, pretty please, consider making your decision based on who can help you achieve the best possible outcome. After all, you’re seeking a therapist for a really good reason. Now is the time to make the commitment you deserve to make in order to get closer to the results you’re longing for in your life. I want you to have less wasted time and more feeling better.
Questions to Ask Your Therapist on the Phone (and take notes!):
"What’s your style in working with your clients?" Or, "how would you describe your approach and style with clients?”: Pay attention to this response, Does the therapist use a bunch of technical jargon like, “I’m a CBT therapist with certification in the QRZ method, and have a lot of experience” or do they describe their approach in a way you can connect to and understand, using terms that would actually make sense to anyone on the street? Maybe you are looking for a CBT therapist who is certified in QRZ techniques – which I made up. If that's the information you need, then great. You should feel free to ask about specific modalities if you know you need a type of therapy that will get you to your goals (for example, many couples look for therapists who are trained in the Gottman Method). But most people are more interested in hearing how the therapist is actually going to help them in real life. You should be able to get the answer you need to this question.
Does the counselor seem put off by this question? One client I met with in Old Saybrook told me that another therapist she called got super defensive when she asked about how they work, and simply answered, "I'm very experienced and have been doing this a long time!" Yikes! She knew this wasn't someone she could establish a mutual relationship with. The therapist should be warm in their response and happy you asked, and happy to answer.
Follow up question to the previous question, if applicable: "Do you have a certain modality or technique you use to help your clients?" Depending on your treatment goals, you may want to find out if your therapist or counselor has a particular training or certification that will help them treat your concern more effectively. For example, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is very effective in helping with Depression, and as I mentioned above, The Gottman Method can be effective for couples.
What do you think would be most helpful in light of what I'm dealing with/ my specific goals? Your therapist or counselor may already be developing an idea of a treatment plan while you were describing your presenting concerns. They might tell you a bit about how they’d work with you to make progress. Or they might ask you to come in for an initial session to get a better sense and discuss, but let you know that they feel confident that based on their experience and approach they could be a good fit for you.
How often do you work with clients dealing with issues similar to the one I am dealing with? You want to know that your therapist helps people work on a challenge like yours fairly regularly. It doesn't need to be your therapist's whole practice, but they may be able to tell you that at any given time they're helping a few clients with your particular issue, or that they do a good deal of work in the area you're looking for. Not only does this give you faith they can help you, but it also will help normalize your problem a bit for you, which is often one of the very first steps to feeling better! You are usually not the only person struggling with something!
How often do you like to see your clients and how does scheduling work? Your therapist or counselor should be able to describe the frequency and flow of sessions, and they might also tell you a bit about why they approach things that way. Understand how your therapist schedules her clients, as this might be important to you. Will you have a recurring slot on the same day and time weekly? Or will you have to play it by ear week to week?
What is your fee and how does payment work? What are my options?: Again, first you want to be trying to find the therapist who can best fit your goals and needs. But then you also need to know how you will be paying for services and what your out of pocket cost will be. Many therapists and counselors are transitioning to being Out of Network providers, and other therapists may take your insurance directly. Understanding your mental health benefits are really important in getting the care you need. If you have real financial constraints, you might want to:
Think outside the box about how to work with your desired provider within your budget and your insurance provisions. Share your concerns with them and see how creative you can be together.
Think about how much you have in your budget to allot for weekly therapy, then try to work within that amount, scheduling out as many sessions in advance within that budget.
Ask whether you might see the therapist less frequently but do more work on your own outside of sessions. Know that not all therapists will agree to this, depending on the type or severity of your presenting concern, but that you may be able to do considerable work on your own and, with the guidance of less frequent therapy visits, still make better progress than if you were going it completely alone.
You’d be surprised how many insurance carriers reimburse for out of pocket sessions anywhere from 30%-80% per session. Call your provider and ask about your reimbursement and benefits for individual therapy both in and out of network.
6. Do you have openings and when can we start? Hopefully your therapist or counselor would have told you before this call if they were full and had no openings! But, you’ll want to know when the next opening is and when you can begin. If possible, get your initial session on the calendar right then and there while you're on the phone. Studies show if you delay actually making the commitment, you’re less likely to follow through on finally getting the help you know you really need.
I also love these additional open-ended questions that allow therapists and counselors to share even more with you: You can always ask your therapist,
“Is there anything people usually ask you that I haven’t asked, and that would be helpful for me to know?” or
“Is there anything else I should know about how you work, or what it’s like to work with you?” or
“what haven’t I asked that would be helpful for me to know about working with you?”
I hope that my articles are helping you take the important steps to finding the right therapist, counselor, or other provider to meet your wellness goals. If you are still feeling stuck, feel free to call me at (860) 339-6515 for your complimentary initial consultation. I’d be happy to hear about what is happening and help direct you to the right person. If you are looking for help with anxiety, marriage, divorce, disordered eating, and other specialized women’s issues, you can read more here about how I help women overcome their barriers and begin to live their best life.
Lauren L. Drago, MSEd, LMHC, LPC is a women's therapist and counselor, providing individual counseling in Old Saybrook, CT and online in greater CT, NY & PA. She specializes in working with smart, insightful and capable women to overcome stress, anxiety, loss of identity, self-limiting beliefs, perfectionism, marriage strain, and the pressure of "trying to do it all." Lauren has a passion for helping others to achieve the happy, fulfilling, productive, and meaningful life they deserve. She believes that every woman can and should live out her personal definition of her own best life. Follow Lauren on Facebook, and call (860) 339-6515 to schedule your free initial consultation.