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  • Writer's pictureKristy Aspinwall, LPC

Read my answers to "23 Questions You Should Ask a Potential Therapist"

As seen on www.choosehealth.comhere are 23 Questions to Ask A Potential Therapist

1. Do you take my insurance? 

I am in-network with Blue Cross Blue Shield, Multiplan, Humana, and Aetna. I am happy to work with your out-of-network benefits on other insurance plans or arrange a financial agreement that works for you.

2. What license(s) do you have to be a therapist and how long have you been practicing?

I am a Licensed Professional Counselor. I have a Bachelors’ Degree in Psychology and a Masters’ Degree in Counseling. I have also received certifications in Addiction and Trauma. That means I have obtained extensive education and experience in the treatment of those areas. In addition, I am a Certified Professional Counselor Supervisor, which means I am qualified to train associate licensees in the field. I have been practicing full time since 2010 and began intermittent internships in 2007.

3. What experience do you have working with the types of problems I am experiencing?

Of course, I can’t know your specific problem until we meet. However, my primary specialties, as mentioned above, are Addiction and Trauma. I also specialize in Anxiety, Life Transitions (particularly those of young adults), and Women’s Issues. While I may not specialize specifically in other areas, my experience has given me the chance to work successfully with many other disorders and concerns. I see both individuals and couples.

4. What is your approach to doing therapy in a situation such as this one? 

Again, your situation regarding therapy will be specific to you, but here are some generalizations: I like to approach therapy from the assumption that you are the expert on you. That means, I am here as a tool you use to uncover things that perhaps you cannot see for yourself. I think that the Therapeutic Relationship is the most important part of Counseling and therefore try to tailor my approach to what you need. I tend to use tools and theories from Existential Theory and Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy.

5. What has your success rate been with problems like this? 

Success rates are difficult to calculate, but a popular question that is asked. People define “success” differently and then we can further complicate that by the fact that I am not walking along in someone’s life, so I have little information about how they are truly doing. What I can tell you is that the vast majority of my clients report enjoying therapy and feeling relief or improvement in their functioning because of it.

6. In working with a patient or client, do you tend to be more directive or more like a consultant to the patient or client? 

This depends a lot on you, but generally speaking I tend to be a bit more directive. I am also a bit more blunt than many others in my field. I would never try to make you feel silly, dumb, or inadequate- I simply know that my clients come to me to get work done and we can do that much better by having open and honest communication. I ask that my clients do the same in return and always let me know if something doesn’t feel right for them.

7. What types of things would you expect me to do between sessions, if anything?

I don’t usually give “homework” in the sense of completing written work. I will typically challenge you at the end of every session to practice anything that we might have talked about that week or to make a point to notice things that happen regularly around you. For some, this will mean writing and possibly even journaling, but for others it may mean just taking a mental note to report on next time.

8. Describe to me your ideal client.

What a great question! JMy ideal client is someone who wants to see a change in their life and is eager to make that happen, even if they don’t know how. I love to see clients who come into session ready to talk and dig into things. I also love working with clients who are willing to challenge themselves and their “rules of living” that may not be working.

9. What do clients do that really annoy you?

Wow, this is a tough one. In session, there is little that you can do “wrong” or that is “annoying”. As I mentioned before, I try to tailor my approach to your needs and therefore you drive things the way you need them to happen. I suppose the most “annoying” things someone can do is not show up for their scheduled appointment, particularly without letting me know.

10. What happens if I can’t make an appointment?

If you cannot make an appointment, that is perfectly fine. I understand being busy and surprises in life coming up! If you cancel with less than 24 hours’ notice (or don’t let me know you aren’t coming at all), you will be responsible for a late cancellation fee. The good that I have to “sell” people is my time and a reserved piece of that must be carved out for each person. If there is a chance for us to reschedule your appointment, I am happy to do everything I can to accommodate that. Please remember, phone call sessions and video sessions are always an option (although insurance may not pay for these). Also, insurance doesn’t pay for missed appointment fees, so that will be an out-of-pocket expense.

11. What happens if I am late for a session?

Again, if possible I ask that you let me know via text, email, or phone call. That way I won’t worry about you. However, the time you spend in session is yours to do with as you please. You have purchased a block of my time (approx. 45-55 mins) and you can use whatever amount of that time that you please. I will generally not see someone who arrives more than 30 minutes after the start of their session time because it is typically wasted time for us both at that point.

12. If I start having lots of problems between sessions, what are my options?

Depending on the issue, there are many options. We can increase how often we see each other. The most I typically see someone is twice per week. If that still isn’t helping, I may refer you to a Higher Level of Care (HLOC). We will discuss what’s best for you and your input will always guide my recommendations.

13. Are your appointment times flexible or will I get my own slot?

Both! I have many people who schedule as they go to have more flexibility and I also have folks who see me at the same time and on the same day every week. I’m happy to do what works for you. Remember, if you set a recurring appointment you are responsible for paying for that time unless you cancel more than 24 hours in advance.

14. When you are away, what happens to my therapy?

Depending on the length of time I am away and your needs, one of three things can happen: 1) We put therapy on hold until I return and you will be given an emergency contact you can reach out to if you need immediate help, 2) We can continue doing sessions via phone or video, or 3) I will refer you to another great therapist who will help you continue the work you are doing.

15. Do you regularly make clients wait for their sessions or do they start on time?

I do my very best to respect your time as much as I hope you would respect mine. I would say 98% of my sessions begin on time. Occasionally, your session may start slightly late due to the previous session running over or my own humanness. If my timing is ever a problem for you, please let me know! I will also let you know as soon as I possibly can of any cancellations I have to make due to life, weather, or other unforeseen circumstances and will do my best to reschedule you to a time that works.

16. Do you have an understanding of my perspective as a _______? (This could be based on gender, cultural, race, ethnicity, etc)

Again, specific question, but I would generally say “yes!” I am multi-culturally trained and am a part of the LGBTQ+ Therapist Resource. I have worked with folks from almost every background you can imagine and I believe it’s important to work your identity into your therapy. I also believe it’s very important to know what you don’t know and if I don’t feel that I’m the best therapist for you, I will promptly refer you to someone with a better understanding of your areas of need.

17. Do you do phone sessions if I need something at a different time?

Yes! Phone call and video sessions are an option. I’d love to see you face-to-face if/when that is an option, though. Please keep in mind that insurance may not pay for these types of sessions and the cost could be out-of-pocket.

18. If I wanted to bring someone else to a session, would that be a problem?

Not at all. You are welcome to bring anyone that you feel would help me or us in reaching your goals. You may also give permission for them to speak to me on the phone or otherwise. However, unless you give me specific permission to speak to someone, I will honor your confidentiality and not do so. Please do not bring children to your session unless they are to be involved. They cannot stay unsupervised in the waiting room and can be a big distraction in the session with you.

19 What would I have to do to be ready for the first session?

Call or go online and set up an appointment. That’s all! I don’t expect you to know anything about therapy or me or anything else before we start. I will ask questions to get to know you during our first session and we will just go from there.

20. Does _____ have to find out about what I am working on?

Generally speaking, I am required to hold your confidentiality and not tell anyone that I even know you, much less what we talk about. This varies in a few situations: emergency situations (see below), when you give written permission, the payer of your session (IE- insurance, worker’s comp, EAP, etc.), and if you are a minor (guardians technically own the confidentiality for their minor children although I will typically ask parents/ guardians to let us come to them if something needs to be shared).

21. What is not private and confidential about what we do?

There are very specific instances in which your confidentiality would be broken. In addition to what is listed above, here are some examples: if you report current and active abuse of a minor, elder, or disabled person. I am required by law to report current abuse of these populations. If I am subpoenaed andinstructed by a judge to share information in a court proceeding. If you involve me in any legal proceedings. If I deem that you are a danger to yourself or someone else. In each of these cases, I will give the minimum amount of information possible to suffice the need.

22. I’ve never been in therapy before, will it feel weird?

Yes, it will. That’s okay. Most new things feel weird for a little while. It’s weird to tell a complete stranger all about yourself. It’s weird for that complete stranger to ask in depth questions about you. It’s weird to pay someone “to talk”. However, very wonderful things come from the weirdness. And it’s more than okay to talk about things that feel awkward, in fact I encourage it! By the time you have had a few sessions with me, I hope that you feel comfortable and confident telling me just about anything in your life. And, of course, if you are ever uncomfortable with something we are talking about or that is happening in session, I urge you to let me know!

23. Do you think you can help me? 

As I said before, I think it’s important to know what you don’t know. Therefore, if I ever think that I am not fit for the job of helping someone out, it is my duty and pleasure to refer you to someone who can offer exactly what you need. That being said, yes! If you feel that I’m the right fit for you then chances are very good that I can help you help yourself. I believe that people can change their thinking and behavior and make their lives into something that works for them. After all, if that were impossible- I’d be out of a job J.

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