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.
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.