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Old 09-11-2019, 12:53 AM   #1
maybeblue
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Default Therapist Interview Questions

I just came out of a therapy relationship that was a really bad fit for me. I actually liked her. She would probably have been fun to hang out with, but as a therapist not so much. One of her most aggravating traits was her tendency to listen to about 30 seconds of whatever problem I had, misunderstand it, and then tell me exactly what I needed to do to solve the problem. Then when I resisted this (as I think that any normal human being would) she would say that I needed to "trust the process."

I'm seeing a new one next week and I'm trying to think what kinds of questions to ask to see if she might be a good fit. What kinds of things do you ask a new therapist?
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Old 09-11-2019, 02:42 AM   #2
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Default Re: Therapist Interview Questions

My first question to any therapist is, “what do you get out of helping people?”
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Old 09-11-2019, 04:11 AM   #3
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Default Re: Therapist Interview Questions

Not just questions it is how they conduct themselves, how they move, how they look at you. If they just let you ramble on or if you are not talking enough will they help you out by asking questions or let you sit there in awkward silence.

I would ask if they have worked with others with similar issues to mine and have they been successful with resolving their issues. I would ask what modality has been the most useful? I would ask if they have a dog and what kind. I am leary about people that never own dogs. You have to have a huge nurturing and patient side of you to own a dog along with a huge capacity for compassion.
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Old 09-11-2019, 05:59 AM   #4
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Default Re: Therapist Interview Questions

Yeah, I agree with MoxieDoxie -- you should ask the therapist if s/he has worked with patients who have symptoms similar to yours.

Also, you should look up the therapist online. I'm not talking about researching where they live etc., but since I see you're in the U.S., there are usually profiles on Psychology Today and sites like that where therapists say what they "specialize" in.

See here: Find a Therapist, Psychologist, Counselor - Psychology Today

Optionally, you can also look up a therapists' licensure to see if there are any formal complaints about him/her if you're concerned about that sort of thing. I find that I don't really need to do that, but it's an option if you've had bad experiences with therapists in the past, where the therapist has violated some code of conduct.

Finally, look up some reviews. People are more likely to post negative reviews than positive reviews. So, if a therapist doesn't have any reviews or any positive reviews, I wouldn't take that negatively. However, if the therapist does have lots of negative reviews, I'd take that into consideration.

I guess what I'm trying to say is: there is A LOT of information out there on the web that you can utilize in determining which therapists you even want to consider interviewing. It's good to have a background on the therapist before you even meet with him/her. I did that myself.
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Old 09-11-2019, 08:36 AM   #5
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Default Re: Therapist Interview Questions

I don't know, I think you could ask all the questions in the world and still end up with a bad fit. If you've had several therapists who have all done something that was problematic, you could have a question about that. On the other hand, I don't know if asking a question where you say that you have had a problem in the past with it will yield an honest answer. For example, if you asked the therapist if she is a good listener and can accept it if you say she has misunderstood you, she is sure to say yes - because who wouldn't? I'm sure even your last therapist, who didn't listen, misunderstood, and refused to be enlightened about her misunderstanding would have claimed this and most likely believed it, too.

There are some questions that can screen out people that would be a bad fit based on facts. For example, I would not see a therapist that I could not contact directly - they would need to have at minimum an office voicemail. I would not be ok with having to go through the receptionist for everything or if I wanted to leave a message, nor would a third party relay service be acceptable to me. I would not want to see a therapist who regularly went on vacations that meant I would have more than 10 days between sessions. It seems many people on PC have therapists who go away for 2+ weeks or even months at a time, multiple times per year. That is of course the right of the therapist. I just wouldn't want to see one that would be away that much. I also wouldn't want to see one who was overbooked and couldn't see me for the number of sessions I wanted - and I also wouldn't see one who insisted on making the decision on the number of sessions I would have.

I think you've said you have had several therapists before. Maybe you can come up with a list of things you liked about them and a list of things that didn't work so well for you. That could help clarify what is important for you in a therapist. In the end, though, as I mentioned before, I'm not sure questions can ensure a good fit. I would ask a few questions based on things that would be deal-breakers, and if she passes those tests, proceed. I definitely wouldn't give her as many sessions to make a determination as the last one, though - unless you're feeling ambivalent but still open rather than bad. Ambivalence doesn't necessarily mean it's a bad fit, imo, just depends. But if you don't like her, just don't go back. Two or three sessions should be enough. And if she's awful the first session, it's fine to bail.
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Old 09-11-2019, 08:37 AM   #6
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Default Re: Therapist Interview Questions

Thank you. I do know what modality she uses: DBT. She has a license and a certification in DBT which is time consuming and expensive so she put a lot of effort into being an expert in a particular area of therapy. Her specialty is borderline personality disorder. I don't quite have that diagnosis apparently, but I sure have some traits. My emotions are all over the place. The last therapist had all those things too, but our personalities didn't mesh. She made decisions very quickly and I thought without enough investigation first. Really she seemed much more impulsive that I am.

If I ask the therapist directly: Do you make treatment decisions impulsively? She's going to say "no." So maybe I should come up with a scenario. On the one hand I don't want to scare the woman off during our first session, but on the other hand that other therapist was very stressful for me and I don't want to get into that situation again.

I'd also like to know how she handles anger.
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Old 09-11-2019, 08:55 AM   #7
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Default Re: Therapist Interview Questions

Not sure answers to question ensure a good fit.
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Old 09-11-2019, 09:12 AM   #8
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Default Re: Therapist Interview Questions

Yeah, I think knowing how she handles anger is a good one.

As for coming up with a scenario, that's a good idea, but the thing about impulsivity is that it can't be detected based on a theoretical situation because the trigger won't be present. So if she is the type to make impulsive treatment decisions, asking her what she would do when you are interviewing her is not really a similar scenario if that makes sense. I could be projecting, though, based on my own issues with impulsivity.

I'm getting the impression that your fear is that she will be like the last therapist and due to your aversion of confrontation, you will get stuck seeing her for a bunch of sessions like with the last one. I just want to remind you that you do have the power to walk away, and hard as it was, you were able to do so with the last one. With this next one, you don't have to see her a second longer than you want to. Try to remember that even though you find it difficult, you do have the capacity to endure conflict and come out of it ok. You did a great job with the last therapist of asserting yourself. Maybe focusing on avoiding even the possibility of having to do that again just builds up your anxiety or fear around conflict. It might be more helpful when you start having thoughts about this next therapist being like the last one to tell yourself that it won't be a catastrophe because you are capable of handling it and removing yourself from the situation - it will be unfortunate if it doesn't work out, but you know how to handle it because you have done so before.
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Old 09-11-2019, 09:14 AM   #9
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Default Re: Therapist Interview Questions

In my experience, most Ts try to present a favorable image at an interview and answer questions in ways they think the client would want to hear. They have had plenty of opportunities to practice that skill, it is just like any other job interview IMO - they want to get hired. So I would generally focus on factual, practical information - e.g. about their education, therapeutic approaches, policies around contact and cancellations, etc. I also would not reveal too much about myself before asking the questions I want - that way they can manipulate and tailor their responses better. I rejected Ts because it became very clear very fast that they refused to answer many questions under the disguise they prefer to investigate the meaning of the questions with the client. That is okay during ongoing therapy, but in an interview? No, it is usually an early sign that they will tend to be manipulative beyond what I am willing to take. I actually learned this from one experience with a T - I did not think much of his refusal to answer questions and to engage at first, and later on he turned out to be sloppy, a very bad manipulator, and even unskilled, and got fired anyway. Thinking in retrospect, I could have clearly filtered him out had I paid more attention to his initial reactions and my (ambivalent, to start with) impressions.
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Old 09-11-2019, 09:21 AM   #10
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Default Re: Therapist Interview Questions

I'm struggling with something similar, as I see a new potential T in 45 minutes (then maybe another on Monday). I'm afraid of scaring him off with certain questions. Like, "How do you handle it if a client becomes very attached to you?" Or "Are you willing to say 'I care about you' to clients without a bunch of conditions on it?" And there are others that, like in Susannah's comment, I doubt they'd answer honestly. Even if they answer everything perfectly, doesn't ensure a good fit. I tend to just go with what I feel from someone, like what vibe am I getting from them, do I feel comfortable talking, etc. Well, maybe anxious the first session, but, just...how do I feel about it? Do I feel I want to come back and see them again?
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