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Rise from, then rise above

Why did I make this guide?

Studies show therapeutic rapport is the number one influence as to whether therapy is successful. More and more therapists are offering free consultations to assure that the relationship is a right fit. It is a great tool…but the catch….what does one even ask a therapist? Aren’t THEY the professional?


A truth that hurts: our mental health system is difficult to navigate. That being said, I am very passionate about simplifying the process for those around me. I created this guide originally for my friends who were noticing that they did not know what to look for in a therapist during the free consultation. I now share this guide with you in hopes to prevent future frustration and to leave with a sense of confidence.  Here you can find questions to ask, but also insight as to what emotions are ideal to feel afterwards.

Step 1: The fancy letters 

Are they licensed/legit? Letters may depend by state, but look out for these letters: 

  • LP (licensed psychologist)

  • LCSW (licensed clinical social worker)

  • Ph.D (doctorate of psychology) 

  • LMSW (licensed masters level social worker under the supervision of a LCSW) 

  • LPC (licensed professional counselor)

  • PLPC (provisionally licensed professional counselor under the supervision of a LPC) 

  • LMHC (licensed mental health counselor)

  • LMFT (licensed marriage and family therapist)

  • LCADAC (licensed clinical alcohol and drug abuse counselor)

Life coaches are not necessarily mental health, medical, or clinical professionals; anyone can call themselves a life coach, although some may have professional certification. Many licensed therapists now offer life coaching services as a separate service.

Step 2: The questions

Tell them you are interested in working with them but first want to schedule a time to ask a few questions to make sure it is a good fit. This is a NORMAL ask! Note a little bit of discomfort during the call is to be expected, especially if it’s your first time. That little discomfort is telling you that you are growing!

  1. Story tell as to why you are seeking therapy.  Keep in mind this is a brief phone call, so being concise is needed. “To give you some context, I have been facing xyz. Do you have experience working with people like me?” 

    • Do not fret if you cannot pinpoint a problem. Story tell! Even if that means saying “I am just feeling meh and I don’t know why”. 

    • Personally, I have noticed a lot of shame when people call me and explain what is going on but have not experienced some major trauma. Be it a failed situationship, trouble adjusting to a new job, or just feeling off….all your feelings and needs are valid! 

    • On the other hand, if you are going through something particularly dark and traumatic that is painful to talk about and even calling gives you anxiety….don’t be intimidated! No need to say every detail on the first phone call. Even if you want to be as vague as “I went through something pretty traumatic but it’s hard to chat about over the phone”, it gives the therapist enough context. 

  2. “What is the name of the therapy you tend to do and can you explain it to me in simple terms?” Write down the answer and research it. If they over complicate this and you walk away confused, they may not be a right fight for you. 

    • “What type of people benefit the most from this type of therapy?”

  3. “Have you worked with people of my specific race, age, gender, sexual orientation, religion?”

  4. "What is the estimated cost of therapy and what is included in that cost?"

  5. “What should I expect during our first session?”

Step 3: The feelings afterwards 

Post interview considerations 

Did you leave with a better understanding of the type of work they do?

Were they inquisitive about the issue you voiced?

Did you leave with a sense of hopefulness?

Do you like how they carry themselves?

Does it feel confidential?

Do you feel heard and understood?

Does the therapist seem empathetic to your situation?

Imagine your deepest darkest secret...maybe not now, but in the future, could you imagine trusting this person enough to tell them? 

At the end of the day, therapy is an extremely personal experience. Yes, we want to know if they are qualified, but what is just as important is if you felt comfortable with them. In short, did ya dig the vibe?

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