It’s not uncommon to feel overwhelmed by situations in life and that your problems are more than you can handle.
But how do you find someone who can help you address the problems you are facing? Knowing the right questions to ask and who to ask can help you find the help you need.
Psychologists are professionally trained in helping people overcome burdensome life circumstances. Yet, not all psychologists are right for all situations.
Here are 10 questions you can ask a psychologist to help you find the right one. Finding the right doctor for your specific needs will make a world of difference.
You should ask yourself questions about what you’re expecting to get from your sessions as well. All this will help you find the right psychologist for your needs.
If you don’t know the difference between therapy and counseling, check out our Therapy vs Counseling article. 

Questions for Your Psychologist

1. Are You a Licensed Psychologist?
It’s important to seek out a licensed psychologist as you look for the right person for your specific issue.
Licensed psychologists have specialized training. They adhere to strict laws that make sure they’re qualified to help people with a broad range of issues.
2. Are You Licensed in this State?
Along with this, each state has a Board of Psychologist Examiners. Each state board has their own rules for the practice of psychology. They also keep an eye on the psychologists in the state.
They provide a directory to confirm the licensure of psychologists and clinics. Take a look the Arizona Board of Psychologist Examiners, for example.
3. What Are Your Fees? What insurance do you accept?
It’s wise to ask how much a psychologist charges for each session before you make an appointment. Ask how long their appointments are, and whether the office has a sliding scale fee policy. A sliding scale fee policy refers to when fees differ based on your ability to pay.
Inquire about what insurances your psychologist accepts. Your insurance policy may cover certain fees. Make sure the clinic you’re considering takes your insurance. This is extra important if you don’t have enough to pay out of pocket.
You should know the cost of sessions, and policies of your psychologist’s office ahead of time. This will help you to make the best use of the services they offer. Also you will feel more comfortable about meeting with them.
4. What is your availability? When’s the earliest date that I can see you for our first appointment?
Different psychologists have different availability. They may already have clients booked when you’d like to come in.  
It’s always best to check their availability before you book your first appointment. Some psychologists have over month long waiting lists for meetings.
The most important thing to consider is your comfort and convenience. Your chosen psychologist may not have any openings for a few weeks.
According to OwlPractice, psychologists’ busiest times are during the Fall. Summers are usually slower because people take vacations. If you need to meet right away, check with your psychologist’s openings right away.
5. What are your cancellation policies?
Make sure you understand your clinic’s cancellation policies. Some businesses need at least a 24-hour notice of a missed appointment. If not, they may still charge you for the appointment.
Your insurance may not cover missed appointments. Save yourself money and anxiety by learning these policies immediately.
6. What Are Your Areas of Expertise?
Every psychologist has different types of people they specialize in caring for. They have different areas of issues that they are trained in and experienced in treating.
Before you settle on a psychologist, ask the doctor about his or her specialties.
Do they specialize in treating individuals, families, children or all the above? Do they have knowledge and experience in handling your specific emotional issues? Such as: depression, anxiety, abuse or addiction?
It’s wise to pick a licensed psychologist who has experience with situations like your own.
That type of real-life experience will help a psychologist be able to assist you. They will be able to help in overcoming all the different aspects of your personal situation.
7. What Types of Treatment Do You Use?
There are many types of treatments available for each specific psychological issue. It’s smart to ask about as you are researching psychologists.
What types of treatment do they use? Have those treatment types been proven effective for your particular health challenges?
It’s important to be comfortable with your psychologist’s methods of treatment. Ask questions to help you understand more about how certain types of treatments work.
Don’t be afraid to find to another doctor who treats your specific issue in ways you are comfortable with.
Asking questions of a doctor may cause you to feel a little uncomfortable. Yet, it is important to before you begin treatment. These questions can help you avoid wasting both time and money on a treatment that doesn’t help.
Make sure their answers make sense to you. You should both come together to make a game plan to tackle your issues.
If they take the time to explain their methods in detail to you, chances are, they’re a good fit. They’ll have patience and understanding with you when you’re in your sessions.
8. What methods do you use? Will you lead the session, or follow my lead?
Each psychologist runs their sessions differently. Some use a question and answer method. Some simply let you do the talking. Others use sessions for roleplay or other activities.
Are you more comfortable leading the session yourself? If so, your psychologist may let you take the reigns and offer guidance along the way.
Other times, your psychologist may have a set plan for you. Learning what method your psychologist uses will help you determine if they’re a good fit for you.
9. What’s your theoretical orientation?
A psychologists theoretical orientation describes their preferred theory when observing clients. Their orientation shows more detail of how they treat patients and approach issues.
There are many major schools of psychotherapy that psychologists use. Understanding these types of orientations can help you understand your therapist. It can also help you understand which type may work best for you. Psych Central highlights four types of theoretical orientations.
  • Some psychologists approach a client’s issues as being rooted in childhood. They believe that problems emerge in adulthood due to a childhood event or trauma.
  • Others believe our environment affects our behavior.
  • Some theories suggest that all people are good and hope to achieve “self-actualization.”

Questions for Yourself

Therapy sessions should be about you. Determining your comfort-level should be one of your most important goals.
During your initial session and after, ask yourself the following questions.
1. How soon did you feel relaxed during your session?
Did it take you a long time to get comfortable with the psychologist? Did the two of you “click” immediately?
You need to find someone you’re comfortable talking to or the therapy sessions won’t help. They may be knowledgeable and confident, but if you can’t make a connection, they won’t be able to completely help you.
2. Did you feel rushed during the session?
Whether your therapist is busy, they should still take the time to listen to you. A rushed session leaves a lot of questions unanswered and you feeling dissatisfied. Your therapist may not give you the details you need due to time constraints.
If you aren’t given the time to explain your issues, you can’t get the help you need. Your appointment shouldn’t feel rushed. It shouldn’t feel dragged out either with dead air between you and your therapist.
3. Are you comfortable talking about uncomfortable subjects?
Therapy sessions discuss your issues. Some of these issues may be an uncomfortable topic. Make sure you are comfortable discussing these problems with your psychologist.
You don’t immediately need to mention specific things to your therapist. But they will ask you to dig deeper into certain issues. You should prepare yourself for talking about these things.
Resolving these issues will be the goal of your sessions. If it bothers you to talk about heavier subjects, mention that to your therapist. They can work with you to make that discussion soothing.
4. What do you want to get out of your sessions?
Having a clear goal in your mind will help you find the therapist you need. Some goals include:
  • Do you want closure?
  • Do you want to address certain behaviors?
  • Do you have problems communicating with other people?
  • Are you looking for advice for how to handle a situation?
Maybe you just want someone to talk to who won’t judge you.
These are all acceptable reasons to seek treatment. Millions of Americans meet with psychologists every year.
Being clear on a psychologist’s specialties, treatment methods and policies are all important. Knowing more about all these things will lead to better treatment.
Dr. Keller with Psychologist Scottsdale specializes in psychotherapy for children, adolescents, and families. If you have any problems in those areas, contact him today to set up an appointment!
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