Research consistently shows that it's the quality of the relationship between the therapist and her client that matters most, not the specific treatment protocols the therapist uses. Your mental health is one of the most valuable things you have, so it's worth investing some time in choosing the right therapist for your needs. Consider asking your therapist these five key questions.
Do you understand my values?
To find the therapist who is the best match for you, you need one who embraces—or at least respects—your values. If religion figures prominently in your life, for instance, you may prefer a therapist who understands or shares your religious background.
Have you treated this issue before?
Evey psychological issue comes with its own set of challenges. Trauma, for example, can be accidentally reignited by the slightest trigger. Ensure your therapist has experience with your specific issue.
What approach(es) do you use?
The specific modality your therapist uses matters less than how much you trust him or her. But you should at least know what strategies your therapist is using to treat you, so you can assess whether these approaches feel right to you—and research whether they are scientifically viable.
What specific treatment goals will we set?
You can't measure your progress if you don't have clear goals. Treatment goals help you assess whether therapy is working, and they also let you know what you're working toward. Ask your therapist which goals are reasonable given your needs and challenges.
What if therapy doesn't work?
Good therapists know their limitations. They know whether medication is helpful to your condition, and they understand that everyone is anxious about therapy. Knowing your therapist is committed to a positive outcome can give you the confidence you need to keep moving forward, so ask your therapist about his or her back-up plan—and how long you should wait before relying on that back-up.