Questions to Ask: Choosing a Treatment Provider

It is appropriate and expected to ask questions during a brief telephone, email, or in-person consultation to see if a treatment provider is the right one for you. Before he or she can respond to some of your questions, you may be asked to give your age, your diagnosis or the problems you are seeking help with, as well as any treatment history.

Ask Questions

Practical Issues

  • Where are you located? 
  • What are your hours?
  • What are the costs?
  • Do you accept my insurance?
    • If not, what arrangements do you have for payment? Do you have low-fee or sliding-scale options?
  • What times are available for initial and regular appointments?
  • If I need medication, can you prescribe or refer me to someone who does?
  • Credentials
  • What training and experience do you have in treating anxiety disorders, depression, OCD, PTSD and other related disorders?
  • Do you have a license or certification by the state? If so, in what profession?

Working Together

  • Could you describe how you would work with a person like me?
  • Do you give homework or reading to do between sessions?
  • May I include family members in my treatment?
  • How often and for how long would you anticipate seeing me?
  • How long do you expect it to take before I begin feeling better?
  • Will you coordinate my care with other treatment providers, and if so, how?
  • How can I be in touch with you between sessions if I have questions?
  • Do you recommend any mobile apps to help manage my symptoms?

Medication

  • Can I expect minor side effects?
  • What should I know about side effects that could be serious?
  • May I drink alcohol while taking these medications?
  • May I drive while taking these medications?
  • Will taking herbal remedies (such as kava or St. Johns wort) have an effect on my medications?
  • What should I know about interactions with other medications?

Specialized Knowledge

If possible, it’s best to work with a therapist who specializes in your disorder. Below are common terms that specialists use. A therapist who is unfamiliar with these terms may be a general mental health provider who might not be up to date in specific treatments for anxiety disorders, OCD, PTSD, or depression.

For OCD — Ask about ERP (exposure and response or ritual prevention)

For panic disorder and phobias — Ask about exposure-based treatments.

For generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) — Ask if the therapist does something more than relaxation and if so, what that might be. Ask what specific cognitive therapy techniques will be used.

For depression — Ask if the therapist will do more explore the origins of your symptoms.  Ask about treating your symptoms directly, such as interrupting ruminations (repetitive worry and preoccupations). Find out if this therapist can prescribe medications or work with a prescribing physician if medications are needed.

For all disorders — Ask if the therapist treats different kinds of anxiety and depression differently.

Think of your first few sessions with a new therapist as a mutual assessment. Do you and the therapist agree that he or she will provide the help you’re looking for? Finally, be wary of promises of quick cures, requirements of large commitments of resources up front, and of one-size-fits-all methods.

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