Does therapy seem kind of mysterious to you? Despite the fact that tens of millions of people around the world go to therapy, not so many speak openly about it. It retains a sort of hushed aura. Somewhere between being a shameful confession and a mystical initiation. We are all familiar with the stigma connected to mental illness. You may feel hesitant to ask your therapist relevant questions. Or perhaps, you have no idea which questions to ask your therapist.
The truth is that psychotherapy is neither shameful nor mysterious. Instead, it is a process based on scientifically-tested principles in which you will deal with your problems in a grounded and practical manner. It is important to know that you are not a “patient”, but rather a “partner” in the treatment process. In other words, the direction that your treatment plan takes will depend on you.
Therefore, it is necessary for you to have an idea of what you want out of therapy beforehand. Questioning is not a hindrance. In fact, you should come prepared to your first session with questions to ask your therapist.
In this article, we hope to guide you in coming up with the questions relevant to your specific therapeutic process. By the time you speak to your therapist, you will be prepared to ask for what you need and retain a sense of agency.
Questions to Ask Your Therapist
You may be wondering if you should have questions to ask your therapist. They are the expert, after all. Isn’t questioning undermining them?
If you think about it, every professional needs to take your input into account in order to help you. A doctor (GP) cannot give you treatment without you describing your symptoms first, right? Questions, in therapy, serve a similar purpose.
The Importance of Questions in Therapy
While getting to know your therapist, you will spend a lot of time describing your life. You will probably focus on the problematic areas. This helps your therapist to understand the narratives you’ve constructed and it should give them a good idea of where you’re struggling with your mental health.
However, it doesn’t show them where you stand within these narratives. What stands out as an issue to your therapist, might not be a cause for concern in your life. For example, you may have recently lost a job. For some people, that can lead to major practical and emotional difficulties. But, the work environment may have been toxic for you and losing the job has actually given you newfound freedom.
Basically, what you want out of the therapy process is oftentimes more important than what would otherwise appear to be a focal point. Asking questions about the therapy process gives both you and your therapist a better understanding of what you’re looking for. It could also help you decide if they’re the right person to help you with your problem.
Questions Can Benefit Your Treatment Plan
Furthermore, having the right questions to ask your therapist can benefit your treatment plan immensely. You can use the opportunity to ask them to clarify how they can help you and whether they have ideas to help with your particular needs. When they are going in a direction that you feel isn’t really helping you, asking questions can lead you to a better understanding of why they are doing so. It could also allow them to identify more relevant treatment areas.
If you’re still a bit skeptical about the whole “therapy experience”, asking questions can give you the peace of mind that you need to fully commit to the process.
It is also important to ask for what you need. You may have questions to ask your therapist in mind regarding what you want from them. Therapists are not mind-readers and you shouldn’t expect them to always know your exact thoughts. Most therapists are very good at active listening and they are excellent at interpreting where your problems lie. Nevertheless, asking for what you need will help them get a clearer idea of the issue with as little speculation as possible.
Don’t Hesitate: Keep Asking Questions
Many people fear that having too many questions will undermine their therapist. This should not be your concern. Your therapist is there to help you, and they will understand why you need to know more about the mental health treatment process.
The more important question to ask yourself is whether you are listening to the answers or whether you are looking for a way out. You can discuss this with your therapist if the line seems a bit blurred to you.
Constructing the Psychotherapy Process
Psychotherapy has been evolving for more than 100 years. As our understanding of the human psyche developed over the years, it has become increasingly effective. That does not mean the therapy process is always the same. There are no “cookie-cutters” in the field, as each person has a unique personality and their own particular set of issues.
Working Together With Your Therapist
It is necessary for your therapist to construct the therapy process around each individual client. They need your input to successfully help you grow. As mentioned before, you are not a patient, but rather a participant in the therapeutic process.
Having questions to ask your therapist will both heighten your sense of agency and give your therapist a deeper understanding of who you are and what you are feeling. It is necessary that you take an active interest in your own mental health and that you make sure you understand why you’re doing what you’re doing.
Keep Your Questions Relevant
While coming to a session with questions to ask your therapist is important and necessary, you must ensure that your questions are relevant. Ask questions about your specific therapy process, rather than questioning the field as a whole. It is essential that you ask questions regarding your therapist, rather than therapists in general. Ask questions about yourself and your own issues, instead of focusing on others and their problems.
Relevant questions are just what you need to make you an active participant in the therapy process. Irrelevant questions can be a barrier that prevents you from moving forward on your own journey.
To ensure that you stay on the relevant trail, come prepared with questions to ask your therapist. These will be particular to you, and no one else. Everyone’s process is somewhat different and what you want is going to differ from what the next person wants.
Coming prepared with questions guarantees that you will not forget to ask some of the most important questions. Otherwise, you might feel pressured in the moment and ultimately lose track of what you have and have not asked. You don’t want to end the session only to realize that you did not get the answers you really needed.
How to Choose a Therapist
Choosing to see a therapist is a huge step. You shouldn’t just go to the first therapist you find. How do you go about choosing a therapist?
Is There a Good Therapist Near Me?
Wherever you are, there are certainly good therapists near you. There are excellent therapists throughout the United States and the rest of the world. However, the best option for you might be a bit too far away. They could also be fully booked for months with existing clients. Online therapy may be the perfect option for you, as you no longer have to choose whoever is closest.
Finding the Right Therapist for You
When searching for the right therapist, keep in mind exactly what you’re looking for. Why did you feel that you wanted to see a therapist in the first place? There are specialists in anxiety, depression and other mental illnesses as well as therapists who will focus on helping you find purpose and meaning in life.
You can learn more about a therapist by asking fellow mental health professionals, searching online directories, and visiting their personal websites. With online therapy, you will find a biography written about each potential therapist.
Is It a Good Fit?
Asking your therapist questions will help you to decide if they are the right therapist for you. It gives you the opportunity to see what they can offer you. It also allows you to get to know them better and you can get an idea of whether you’ll be able to build a strong rapport with them. You should feel comfortable with your therapist.
The right fit is not always the person who makes most sense on paper. It is often a very personal thing and, most likely, you won’t know if it’s a good fit until you have actually spent time talking to them. Maybe you take a little longer to warm up to others, but you should get some sense that you will be able to build a beneficial therapeutic relationship.
Invest In Your Mental Health!
Your mental health should be one of your main priorities. It affects every aspect of your life and, if you don’t take care of it, everything else might start to teeter. You should want to work towards improving it. Investing in your mental health involves more than simply allocating resources towards getting help. Choosing to see a therapist is a huge step and investing in the process itself will take you a long way. You should invest the time you have available, as well as your “mind space”, in making your mental health journey a priority.
Therapy should not be a mysterious or intimidating prospect. Rather, you should come prepared with questions to ask your therapist that will help you clarify what you can expect. You should be ready to listen to the answers and to ask any relevant questions that come up along the way. This way, you will be fully committed to taking care of your own mental health!