It can be anxiety provoking to call a new therapist to schedule a first appointment. Asking for help is difficult and sharing details with a stranger about your life and what is making you unhappy is even more difficult. I want to congratulate you for making the decision to get the support you need.
When you call to schedule an appointment with a therapist for the first time, ask if they will schedule a free 15 minute appointment with you which is a consultation. (If you need some help finding a therapist in Evanston, you can look at our last article, Finding a Therapist in Evanston, IL). These consultations are usually done over the phone and are an opportunity for you to interview your potential new therapist to see if they can provide you with the support you’re looking for.
The questions you can ask your potential new therapist can range from questions about their qualifications, their methodologies, and their rates to what their sessions look like, or how you’ll know you’re making progress.
If you’re experiencing anxiety and loneliness, or an individual suffering from Fibromyalgia, IBS, GI distress or chronic pain, this blog post is especially for you.
Questions to ask your Evanston therapist before you schedule your first appointment:
What are your qualifications as a therapist?
Knowing a therapist’s qualifications provides you with reassurance that they are trained in the areas that you are needing support in. Psychotherapy is a regulated act in the United States so you want to make sure that your therapist is registered and qualified.
Our staff are experienced and licensed to provide therapy services in Illinois. All have diverse qualifications, which are vetted by the Executive Director who is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with 30 years of experience in counseling and therapy, with a Master’s in Social Work (MSW) from Loyola University and a Ph.D in Clinical Social Work from the University of Chicago.
How will you help me with GI distress and chronic pain in therapy?
Asking this question will provide you with information about what you can expect in your treatment journey. Its an opportunity to ask and decide if you are aligned with the therapist’s methodologies.
One of our specialties is helping people with chronic illness, gastrointestinal issues, and pain syndromes to manage their symptoms, both emotionally and physically, through counseling, CBT, hypnotherapy, and stress management techniques.
We will teach you how to manage the symptoms and stress that results from living with chronic illness. You will learn how to change the way you think and feel about your body, with tools to use at home and in life so that you don’t get sucked into despair and overwhelm. Our clients often notice a change in both their physical symptoms and emotional pain as they implement our work together.
What counseling methods or therapies do you use for People who are experiencing anxiety or loneliness?
Asking this question provides you an opportunity to learn about methodologies your therapist may use with you and provides you an opportunity to ask questions about these methodologies.
We help people who feel isolated, anxious, and overwhelmed in their lives to find more happiness, satisfaction, and self-acceptance. Our clients achieve these results through relational methodologies , Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Couples Counseling, Hypnotherapy, and pet-assisted therapy.
What does an average counseling session look like?
Knowing what an average session looks like can help you prepare for your time with your therapist. It will help you feel comfortable going to sessions knowing what you can expect during your time with your therapist.
During your first session, you will meet with your therapist to discuss what you want to transform in your life through therapy. we will provide a thorough assessment, not just looking for the pain of the past but what your strengths are to help you heal and move forward.
After the first session, we will meet weekly for relationship therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, animal assisted therapy or hypnotherapy, depending on what is best for you.
We want you to feel more connected than ever because you will discover you aren’t alone. Prepare to laugh, sometimes cry, but ultimately ease into more of who you are and what you want.
What is your general philosophy and approach to helping through counseling?
Sometimes, people need different types of help and support. Some people need a direct approach while others need a more guiding approach. This question will help you determine if the therapist is able to provide you the support you need, the way you need it.
We are accepting, healing, funny, and down to earth. The most important thing in our work is to listen to you and support you, offering you a place where you feel heard and safe. With this understanding, we can then help you start leading the sort of life you would like to lead, free from negative thinking and anxiety, and filled with connection.
We encourage our clients to look outside of themselves to see they are not helpless and to look within themselves to understand patterns of behavior that may be interfering in their relationships and choices. We can help you become more aware and accepting of yourself and others. This self-acceptance will reduce stress and anxiety so that you can feel empowered to take on new challenges and create a more meaningful life for yourself.
How will I know that I’m making progress in counseling?
It’s important to be able to measure your progress. In therapy, there are goals and milestones you want to reach; tracking them helps you stay aligned with those goals. We listen to our client’s and make sure that we are working together to meet whatever goals
What are your fees for counseling? Do you take insurance?
Ask your Evanston therapist how much their fee is and make sure that it fits in with your budget. Making sure that you can afford the therapy sessions is important in maintaining a long lasting relationship. Healing takes time.
If you would like to use your out-of-network benefits, we provide a service that will allow you to easily and quickly submit to your insurance company to be reimbursed for any out-of-network benefits whether you are doing relationship therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, hypnotherapy, or animal assisted therapy. Some policies reimburse more than others, so make sure to verify this with your insurance company first to learn about your out-of-network benefits.
What is your cancellation policy?
Stuff happens, therapists know this, that’s why they will usually have a cancellation policy. Inquire about your therapist’s policy to make sure that it is something you think you can withhold. Schedules vary and therefore it is important to find something you can adhere to based on your schedule demands. We require 48 hours notice.
What is your availability in-between counseling sessions?
Ask your therapist what their policy is about communication in between sessions. How quickly can you expect to get a response and how do they prefer that you contact them. You can text us, or call or email. If we are unavailable, we will do our best to get back to you within 24 hours.
How often should I come in for counseling?
Different therapists have different commitments. The important thing is that you’re able to commit to your healing. Ask your therapist what commitment they need from you to ensure that you get the most out of your time together.
In our practice, clients are seen weekly, at least in the beginning, as this allows for consistency and reinforces what you are learning and implementing outside of the therapy sessions. Overtime, we can drop back to every other week, depending on your needs and your progress. It is not uncommon for our clients to come in to work on one issue, only to end up continuing with therapy because they want to work on other areas of their life. Many of our clients have been with my practice long term – over a year or more.
As you can imagine, these are just a few of the questions you could ask your potential therapist. The important thing to remember is that the consultation call is a time where you can ask questions to find the answers to things that are important for you in a therapeutic relationship. Ask what matters to you.
Our Evanston therapists provide experienced, quality counseling services. Their specialties include: Anxiety Therapy, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Hypnotherapy, and Relationship Therapy for people in Evanston and Chicago IL. For the pet lovers out there, we also provide Pet-Assisted Therapy. Our therapists help people who feel isolated, anxious, and overwhelmed in their lives to find more happiness, satisfaction, and self-acceptance. We also help people manage and think differently about chronic pain, fibromyalgia, IBS, and other forms of GI distress.