Most therapists will offer a free, brief consultation call prior to booking a session. If you’re new to therapy, or even if you’re not, it can be difficult to know what questions to ask to gauge whether or not a therapist will be a good fit for you. While a lot of that determination will come from your gut instinct and whether or not you generally feel safe speaking with the person, here are some helpful questions to ask. These questions can help you learn more about the therapist’s style, their experience treating clients with your issues and general logistics compatibility.
Can you describe what a typical online therapy session with you would be like?
Every therapist’s approach is unique and it is helpful for you to understand whether or not their style aligns with what you’re looking for. How long are their sessions? Will they stay mostly quiet and let you do most of the talking? Are they typically more engaged and interactive? Do they dig into the past or focus more on the present? Will they provide you with feedback and homework to do outside of sessions? Try to identify any preferences you have prior to the call and then ask this to see how their answer does or doesn’t align. This question also helps you learn what to expect if you are new to therapy and feeling discomfort about getting started.
Are there any types of clients or issues you do not treat via online therapy?
You’ll want to make sure that your therapist feels confident about being able to treat you virtually and will know when in-person treatment or alternative resources would be a better fit. While online therapy makes treatment more accessible, there are certain issues or symptom severity levels that might be better treated in-person. Ideally, you’ll want to make sure your therapist will be honest with you about the limitations of online work.
What will you do if we’re not making progress together through online therapy?
Similarly to the above, you want to know that your therapist, above all else, is committed to you getting the help and support you need – even if that means they aren’t the best or only person able to provide that. Going into therapy together with a plan about what you’ll do if you aren’t making progress will give you both confidence that you’re committed to the same goal and willing to course-correct if needed.
Have you successfully helped clients who have my symptoms through online therapy?
While all therapists are trained to work with a variety of populations and issues, it may be helpful or important for you to know what your therapist’s experience level is in treating people like you. You may even want to ask about approaches, techniques or resources they have found helpful in treating folks with your issues to get a more holistic sense of how they think and apply their skills.
How long does online therapy treatment typically last?
While there are a lot of variables that go into this answer, it can help to know if your prospective therapist has any guidelines they use to determine the length of treatment. Some therapists only provide brief, solution-focused treatment while others provide longer-term support. Either way, you’ll want to know that your intentions for therapy align with what your prospective therapist offers.
What is your availability and how frequently can we meet for online therapy?
This is important to ask especially if you have a restricted availability. You might find a great therapist that you really align with, but scheduling incompatibility could make it a deal breaker. Do you need an early morning, evening or weekend time? These fill up quickly, so be sure to ask if they are consistently available if so. Do you prefer a recurring appointment time or a flexible appointment time that changes week-to-week? Do you have any needs or preferences regarding frequency of sessions? If so, you’ll want to discuss these preferences up front. Your prospective therapist can also talk you through the benefits/challenges of each option if you’re unsure and make recommendations for you based on your situation.
What is my per session cost?
It is important to make sure you’re fully aware of any costs prior to booking your therapy session. Your prospective therapist can let you know if they are in-network with your insurance plan and confirm your coverage/per session cost (deductible, co-pay, co-insurance, etc.) if you provide them with your insurance information. If they are out-of-network with your insurance plan, you will be responsible for covering the entire out-of-pocket cost, so it’s important to know what that is. In some cases, your insurance plan may offer out-of-network benefits and potentially reimburse you for some or part of the fee. However you will need to ask your insurance company, not the prospective therapist, to be sure in this case. Additionally, if you are unable to afford the prospective therapist’s session fee, you can ask if they have any sliding scale options available.
While it’s possible to have success with therapy regardless of the therapist, it is also important for you to feel safe and to be on the same page regarding expectations in order to get the most out of it. It can help to consult with a few different therapists for comparison prior to selecting one. If you are unsure whether or not the prospective therapist is a mutual fit, ask to follow-up at a later time and don’t feel pressure to book a session on the spot. Take all the time you need to make this important decision about your health.