Home Clinical Psychology & Psychotherapy Questions to Ask When Screening an Online Therapist – Mental Health Matters

Questions to Ask When Screening an Online Therapist – Mental Health Matters

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Are you considering virtual therapy? Be prepared to ask questions.

Finding the right online therapist requires time and careful consideration, not unlike traditional face-to-face therapy. During the screening process, it’s essential to ask multiple questions of your potential therapist to ensure they are the right match for you. 

After all, therapy costs money and time, and you deserve someone who will do their very best to help you with your psychological and emotional healing.

Without further ado, here are the most important questions to ask when screening an online therapist.

Are you licensed as a therapist?

First things first, ask the therapist if they’re licensed to practice in your country or state. It’s crucial to find this out from the get-go because licensing requirements for therapists vary from place to place, and you want to make sure your future therapist has the right qualifications to treat you.

Working with a certified or licensed therapist is of utmost importance because only licensed providers have the education, training, and the necessary skills to provide effective mental health care. Expert mental health therapists, such as those at Path Mental Health, can be valuable partners on this journey, offering expertise and guidance tailored to your unique needs. 

What is your specialisation and approach?

While being licensed means your therapist is competent, it’s worth noting that therapists have their own unique areas of expertise and approaches they prefer using in their practice. In other words, not all therapists have experience treating every condition. So, to find the right fit for your needs, it’s essential to ask about the therapist’s specialization and their usual or preferred therapeutic approach.

For example, if you struggle with anxiety, it’s best to look for a therapist specialising in anxiety disorders, as they are likely to use evidence-based treatments for treating anxiety, such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). If, on the other hand, you need help healing from abuse, you’ll want to look for a therapist who specializes in trauma. The point is, that you want a therapist who has enough experience to treat your unique concerns and who employs the right approach for your sensibilities.

How much does treatment cost?

Therapy is, unfortunately, not free for most people, so it’s important to have a discussion with your potential therapist about the financial aspect of the treatment. This should be one of the first questions you ask so you can avoid any unexpected surprises later on.

So, how can you go about this? It’s best to start with a simple, straightforward question: How much will this cost me? If you have health insurance, find out whether the therapist is in-network with your provider. This could greatly reduce your out-of-pocket expenses, making therapy more affordable. But, even if the therapist is out-of-network, you can always ask if they can provide you with the necessary documentation to submit claims for reimbursement from your insurance company.

How do you ensure privacy and confidentiality?

Confidentiality is the basis for an effective therapeutic relationship, whether in-person or online. So, when you’re screening an online therapist, make sure you ask them about the measures they have in place to protect your privacy.

Firstly, ask about the platform they use for sessions and its security features. We highly recommend sticking to platforms that have encryption and other safeguards in place to keep your personal information confidential. 

As for the therapist, they should also have policies and procedures in place to handle any potential confidentiality breaches, even in the unlikely event they occur. While we’re on the subject of technology, ask how they plan to deal with potential technical issues during sessions and whether they have another way to communicate if the internet goes haywire.

What are your ethics and boundaries?

Therapists have boundaries, too, and it’s perfectly fine to ask about their code of ethics. In fact, it’s recommended that you do as understanding the therapist’s ethical framework and boundaries is important for building trust and maintaining a healthy therapeutic relationship.

You can ask about their stance on a variety of things, including dual relationships, which occur when a therapist has a personal or professional connection with a client outside of therapy (a friend, colleague, relative, etc.). And in this day and age, it makes perfect sense to ask for their take on social media interactions, too. Is it okay for you to interact with them on your social media, and if it is, in what ways? Clear communication about these issues is important for a safe and respectful therapeutic relationship.

How do you assess progress and set goals?

To make progress in anything in life, you need goals, and therapy is no exception. After all, you’re probably considering therapy in order to improve or heal certain aspects of your life or personality. So, do not be afraid to ask the therapist how they assess progress and set goals for treatment. A good therapist will explain their therapeutic process clearly and in detail.

For example, a therapist may conduct assessments to measure changes in your mental health and well-being on a regular or semi-regular basis. By discussing your progress and setting achievable goals with your therapist, you can actively participate in your treatment and have a roadmap for your path to recovery or improvement.

Can you provide references or client testimonials?

Credentials and expertise are, of course, vital, but hearing from those who have experienced therapy with the provider in question is also important. Don’t hesitate to ask the therapist if they can provide references or client testimonials.

Speaking with past clients or reading about their experiences can give you a sense of the therapist’s effectiveness and what you can expect from working with them. These firsthand accounts often provide very valuable insights into what working with a particular therapist is like.

Samantha Green, a psychology graduate from the University of Hertfordshire, has a keen interest in the fields of mental health, wellness, and lifestyle.

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