Questions to Ask a Therapist Ahead of Your First Session

How to find the right fit when you’re looking for a new therapist
Medically Reviewed by
Dr Hamilton
A woman looks off into the distance, thinking about what she wants out of a therapist relationship
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Finding a good therapist can be daunting — it’s a little bit like job-hunting, dating, and house-hunting all rolled into one. Before you even start, it’s a good idea to sort out your ideal therapist’s qualities to help you narrow the search.

You probably want someone in your area who treats the kinds of symptoms you’re dealing with, whose schedule works with yours, who’s taking new patients, and who either takes your insurance or is affordable out of pocket, and those are just the logistical considerations.

Even more daunting are the less concrete assessments you’ll need to make — the vibes. Would you feel more comfortable with a therapist whose gender or background mirrors your own? Do you need someone who can prescribe medications or someone who understands your particular religious affiliation? How can you tell if this person will ‘get’ you, so you don’t waste a bunch of time and money trying out one therapist after another?

It’s not always easy to find a therapist who fits your needs, but preparation can help. Once you know what you’re looking for, we’ve got some questions for you to ask prospective therapists to help you figure out the best match for you.

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A woman smiles down at her phone during a telehealth session with her new therapist
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What to ask a therapist before your first appointment

At this stage, you’ve narrowed down your search and you’re planning to make some calls. Most therapists offer to do a brief call with prospective patients, around 15 or 20 minutes, to gauge whether the fit is right. Don’t be afraid to ask for this if the therapist doesn’t suggest it first.

Some of the questions you might ask a potential therapist on this call include:

There are a variety of other questions you can ask, about things like licensing and education, session length and scheduling, and whether sessions can be virtual as well as in-person. But remember that this initial call will likely be brief, so try to focus on questions that aren’t as easily answered on the provider’s website or over email.

Once you’ve chosen a therapist and set up your first appointment, you might begin to worry about what you’ll say in that initial session. Especially if you haven’t been to therapy before, this is a new therapist for you, or it’s been a long time since you were in therapy, it can be difficult to know where to begin summing up your whole life or the issues you may have been dealing with for years.

Don’t worry — the right therapist will be able to lead you with some guiding questions. Yes, the first time you meet can be a bit awkward, but as the relationship deepens, your sessions will likely begin organically. 

Therapists created Youper to make mental healthcare accessible to everyone. Youper is a mental health chatbot that guides you through interactive CBT Therapy exercises to help you calm anxiety, improve your relationships, be more productive, and improve your mood. Youper is available on your own time and schedule wherever and whenever needed.

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