• Caitlan Ruger

7 Questions to ask yourself before starting therapy

Updated: Aug 28, 2020

Thinking about starting therapy can be a rollercoaster of emotions. A part of you feels excited to get support and another part can feel panicked. It's asking you: "Are you sure this is a good idea?"

My goal is to make this process as easy and as smooth as possible. We often think about questions we want to ask our potential therapists but have you ever thought about what to ask yourself?

I know, I know. You’re already taking a HUGE step in even thinking about starting and now I’m suggesting more work before you even get your foot in the door of a therapy room. I promise, these questions will help you maximize your time in therapy.

1. What is the main thing I want to get out of this?

This question helps inform your therapist what areas you want to focus on plus it helps you narrow down therapists who may be the right fit. For example, if you want to work on supporting your anxiety, you would likely search for a therapist who specializes in anxiety.

Taking time to really think about this question will also help you inform what “progress” or change is looking like for you.

Which brings me to question #2...

2. How will I know when things are shifting/changing in my life?

Answering this question helps you get a sense of signs that the work is working. If we stick with the example above, they may answer this question as follows. I will know things are shifting when I feel more in control of my anxiety.

It may not be a decrease of anxiety but this person might feel more control/ have more tools to support it.

3. What are ways I may potentially hold myself back?

Another way to ask this question.. How will I get in my own way? Counselors and therapists support clients mostly through talking formats. If you know that you can have parts of yourself that are concerned about speaking about certain subjects (yet that is part of what you want to work on) it is going to be helpful to be honest with yourself about what those are. Then, you will be able to identify when you are dancing around an issue in therapy. Well trained therapists will likely also be able to see this and call it out, yet it is a great thing to reflect on ahead of time. Also, it is likely that if this is a way you are holding back in therapy, it is also likely a way you’re holding yourself back in life.

4. What is the ideal setting for me?

If you’re not a morning person it isn’t going to be ideal for you to schedule your therapy at 7:00 AM. You are going to want to think about what an ideal setting is for you. For example, does online therapy make sense for you in terms of logistics and convenience? Do you need a therapist who takes your insurance for budget or are you open to working with someone via private pay? Do you want someone who is close to your home or is the right fit a higher priority? There are so many things to think about here and I would just encourage you to think about all aspects of your ideal setting.

5. What expectations do I have for myself as I show up in therapy?

Do I expect that I will change right away? Do I expect that I’m going to need a few sessions to build a relationship with my therapist to ensure there is trust? Do I expect to show up even if I’m worried and then I can openly talk about that?

We often think about expectations we have for what the experience will be like and it can be helpful to check in on our own expectations of ourselves. Some of us have a tendency to have an inner critic arise and comment with things it thinks we “should” be doing. Check to see who’s around and who has expectations for you in therapy.

6. What do I think I need in a therapist?

Someone to call me out? Someone to be supportive and reflective? Someone who is nurturing?

There are many types of people in this world and therefore many types of therapists. It is important to think about what “type” you might need. Your answer to this question can help form a good question to ask a potential therapist. “What is your style in working with your clients?” This can give you a good idea if you both will be a good fit in working with each other.

Client-Therapist fit is a solid predictor in success of therapeutic outcomes. So take your time and really consider this question to help you find your perfect counselor or therapist match! I guarantee they are out there.

7. What do I need in order to move forward with reaching out to a therapist?

There may still need to be a few things that you might need before feeling comfortable or ready to reach out. Do you need to give yourself permission to take things in your own time? Or maybe you need to share that you are going to reach out to a therapist with someone who you trust that can help you keep you accountable. The list here can go on and on. Check in with yourself and see what you need!


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