Recommended and Frequently Asked Questions
What do I ask a therapist when I first reach out?
Common questions to ask a therapist you are interested in working with:
- When are you available for sessions?
- What is your rate for each session?
- What is your process for the first session?
- How long are the sessions?
- Do you accept insurance? What is your process for verifying that my sessions are covered? (If this isn’t verified 100%, it is possible you will have to pay the therapist out-of-pocket, so it’s best to check before your first session).
- What kind of therapy treatment/modality do you practice with your clients (e.g. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Psychodynamic, EMDR, Neurofeedback, etc.) Don’t be afraid to ask what are the specifics of each.
How do I choose a counselor or therapist?This depends on the reason why you are seeking therapy. You want to be sure that your therapist specializes in this area. For example, if you are starting therapy because of trauma. It is important that your therapist is trauma-informed and comfortable working with this. Same thing if you are looking for a couples counselor. Every therapist has their own specialties. In addition, if you are seeking to get psychological testing, in most states, only psychologists are trained for this. It just depends on the type of evaluation that is needed.
What does a first session look like?Typically, the first session is an assessment session where the therapist gathers the client’s biopsychosocial history. This means we ask about the psychology of the client’s patterns, the health and illness history, and the client’s social factors are evaluated. Some therapists use the first couple of sessions to complete this. Some therapists have a longer first session to complete the evaluation.
How long does therapy last?Everybody is different and there is no telling how long you will receive treatment for. Therapy is a process and the way goals are reached is different among everyone.
Can a psychotherapist prescribe medication?No. Psychotherapists do not complete medical training/schooling. Psychiatrists are doctors that have training in the medical field and psychology field. Psychiatrists prescribe and recommend medications.
What if I don’t like my therapist upon meeting them?If you do not like your therapist upon meeting them, you are not obligated to stay with your therapist. It is encouraged to communicate with your therapist about your reasons and either create a plan with them to transition or work through any misunderstandings that have come up.
Therapy is the start of a professional relationship, and each relationship takes work. It can be awkward at first, but again, with communication it is possible to create a very powerful dynamic that can lead you towards your goals.
Can a therapist share what we talk about in therapy to other people?
No. Confidentiality is part of a therapists’ code of ethics. What you share with your therapist will be kept between you two, even if you are a minor. There are some exceptions to this rule, as described below.
- If a client discloses child abuse, abuse on an elderly person or someone who is disabled (physical, sexual or financial abuse).
- If a client is an immediate danger to himself or others.
- To share diagnosis information as necessary to an insurance company for payment.
- If there is a court order.
At your first visit, your therapist/psychologist should give you written information explaining privacy policies and how your personal information will be handled.
Do minors need permission from their parents to start therapy?This varies by state. In CA, minors ages 12 and older can consent to their own treatment. A parent’s approval or signature is not necessary.
For minors with divorced parents, the parent that holds legal custody provides consent. If parents hold joint custody, both parents must consent to treatment.
What is the difference between an associate, licensed therapist, psychiatrist?An associate is a therapist that is in the process of completing their hours for licensure, and need to pass their licensing board exam.
Any professional that is licensed has accrued 3,000 hours and passed their board exam. They also are required to complete continuing education each year. They cannot prescribe medication.
A psychiatrist is a medical doctor that can provide psychotherapy and prescribe or refill medication.