9 Questions you Need to Ask your Therapist

by Harley Therapy
Reviewed by Dr Sheri Jacobson

It’s likely the more research you do, the more comfortable you will feel with the therapist you choose - and the more successful the therapy will be. Here are 9 questions you might want to ask a therapist before you start working together.

1. How much do you charge?

It might feel uncomfortable to talk with a therapist or counsellor about the cost of sessions, but this will affect whether it is worth setting up a first session and whether you can continue.

Often therapists do not advertise their session costs or availability online, and you will need to contact them by phone or email to ask. Some therapists also offer fees on a sliding scale.

Don’t want to ask?

Therapists listed on harleytherapy.com advertise their session fees and live availability so that you can factor this into your decision process without having to contact them about money and scheduling first. See UK and online therapists here.

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2. What training did you do?

Qualified counsellors, psychotherapists and psychologists in the UK will have spent a minimum of three years training, although many will have trained for longer.

A good, reputable therapist is registered with a professional membership body, which means that they are accountable to recognised ethical and professional standards. A counsellor or psychotherapist in the UK does not have to be registered with a professional board to work as a therapist. But it acts as a layer of protection for you if your therapist is. For example, if you ever wished to raise a complaint, you can contact your therapist’s regulatory board.

You can always check any UK therapist's registration by contacting the membership organisation they are registered with or, in some cases, on the membership organisation's website.

Alternatively, choose a therapist from a community or website that only lists registered therapists. Therapists are only allowed to join harleytherapy.com if they are registered with a reputable membership organisation.

3. Have you been in therapy yourself?

This may or may not feel important to you. If you would prefer to work with someone who knows how it feels to be in the other chair, this is something worth asking about.

Most therapists will have spent a significant amount of time in their own therapy because they believe in the field, even if it is not required. Generally it is seen as good practice that a therapist has been in therapy. This can help them to understand their clients’ experiences without projecting their own life experiences on to a situation. However, personal therapy is not a requisite on all training courses, for example some psychologist trainings do not make this compulsory.

While asking your therapist whether they have had any personal therapy is a valid question, you should not expect to find out personal information and specifics about your therapist’s experience such as names, dates etc. In fact, a competent therapist will have firm personal boundaries and will not overshare.

Ready to find a therapist? See registered UK and online therapists here

4. Do you have experience working with others who are in similar circumstances?

Look for evidence that your therapist has experience with the issues you are facing on their informational section of their website or profile - or contact them before meeting.

To find a therapist with experience in specific circumstances or with certain issues, you can use the harleytherapy.com search page to filter for therapists specialising in issues relevant to you here.

5. Are you in supervision?

All registered therapists in the UK are required to work with a supervisor - another experienced therapist - to ensure they are giving their clients the best possible service. Supervision is important in ensuring that therapists keep their clients’ needs in mind and adhere to ethical standards and boundaries.

6. What type of therapy do you offer? What is your general approach to helping?

You can always ask your therapist in your first session how they feel they can help you and what approaches they would suggest.

Some therapies, such as cognitive behavioural based therapies, are more focused on immediate issues, treating symptoms and relearning behavioural and thought patterns. Often therapy taking this approach will be a place for you to learn tools, tips and exercises to practice in the real world.

Other models of therapy, such as psychodynamic therapy, are more focused on the root causes of immediate problems and creating change through deeper insight into oneself. Often using this approach, the relationship you and your therapist have is valued in itself as an opportunity to uncover important insights. For example, if you struggle to confront people in the outside world, you may find that you struggle to raise concerns in therapy. Therapy can be a safe place to recognise this dynamic, practice these skills and learn from this new experience.

Depending on what is concerning you, you may gravitate more to one style of therapy than another. To find out more about the different types of therapist, see our short guide here.

Find a therapist based on their approach or the type of therapy they offer by using the types of therapy and approach filters on this harleytherapy.com search page.

7. How do you offer therapy - in-person, online or over the phone?

It’s no use working with a therapist who only offers in person sessions if you know you travel all the time. If your therapist doesn’t mention Skype therapy or telephone therapy, feel free to ask them if it’s possible.

Many therapists, including the therapists offering counselling through harleytherapy.com offer many types of communication services to suit people who are not able to access therapy in person.

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8. How much experience do you have?

You might want to ask a therapist about their years' of experience, as well as their experience in working with similar issues.

It is worth bearing in mind that many studies into effective therapy have found that the most important factor in successful therapy is the quality of the relationship between client and therapist. This means it is most important that a therapist is someone you feel you can get along with and grow to trust.

For this reason, you may be better off seeing someone with less experience but who you connect with than a therapist with years' of experience who you don’t feel understands you. You might make some of these decisions before you meet, by reading what a therapist says in their information online, if they have any. On some websites, therapists list their years of experience and more, as is the case on harleytherapy.com.

It might be worth asking yourself if you feel that you can grow to trust this person anf if you feel understood. You may want to give yourself a few sessions to make this decision though, as often the first or first few therapy sessions are about fact-finding and getting to know each other.

9. What if we don’t get on?

It might be that you feel you don’t connect with the first therapist you meet. Sometimes this is a matter of time; it can be helpful to think about whether you feel you could trust your therapist rather than like them. This might take a few sessions to know, or you may get a sense straight away.

If you don’t feel that you can connect with your therapist and you have the option to change therapist, it might be worth meeting with another therapist. In the same way that we don’t connect with everyone we meet, we won’t connect the same with every therapist. You can read more about what to do if you don’t like your therapist here.

Only had one session with your therapist, and really don’t feel it’s a match?

When you book a therapist through harleytherapy.com, you can book a new session with an alternative therapist free of charge if you decide that you and the first therapist are not the right match.

Ready to find a therapist? Click here to get started.

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