I booked a meet and greet..now what?
With many clinicians offering a 'free meet and greet' - what should you ask? What do you not know that you may want to know?
WHAT TO ASK AT A MEET AND GREET!
Research shows that much of your success in counseling relies on the rapport and trust you have with your therapist. That makes sense – if you don’t trust and feel comfortable with your therapist to tell them everything – they can’t really help you!
That said, the meet and greet is a great (and usually free!) opportunity to connect with a potential therapist to check out their vibe.
But how do you make the most out of that time together? And what should and shouldn’t you ask?
If you haven’t already done the research on your potential therapist, it’s ok to ask if they are regulated by a college body. This ensures that they are required to adhere to professional standards and have verified degrees and certifications. Some regulation colleges require ongoing certifications which also ensures that your therapist values ongoing learning and awareness of best practices. You can also check and see if the college requires the member to be in good standing with no outstanding legal issues.
It’s ok to verify the cost of your therapy and to also ask about a sliding scale or compassionate rate. While you may not think you’ll need a sliding scale it says a lot about the therapist's level of compassion and commitment to your work together if they are willing to slide their scale for a client if the client loses employment benefits. You may want to clarify upfront how they prefer to provide you with receipts and/or if they direct bill to your service provider. Remember, most clinicians place the responsibility on the client to ensure their counseling is covered – there are numerous insurance companies with copious plans per companies and clinicians cannot ensure or promise that they are covered (unless of course they have other clients experiences to draw upon).
Asking "how many sessions will I need" should not really give you a clear answer -- most clinicians will need to conduct a proper assessment and evaluation to determine where you are at in your life, what barriers you are facing, what your goals are, and what strengths you have prior to answering "how many sessions". But you can ask about the "frequency" of sessions - how often should I book? Generally speaking, it's weekly, bi-weekly then every three weeks, and finally every month as needed. You are always in control and have the right to terminate counseling sessions.
Scheduling and communication
It’s ok to ask the clinician what their hours are – what days and hours they work and if they take holidays! Holidays ensure that your therapist is balanced and engaged in self-care which means they will be better able to support you in yours!
This is also a great time to ask the therapist if they prefer appointment bookings/changes through phone, text, email or their website.
Every great clinician I’ve ever met…has a clinician! It’s very valid to ask your potential therapist if they have a therapist! It means they value counseling for themselves and are willing to invest the time, money, and experience to ensure they are regulating their own vicarious trauma and stress. Therapists who do not commit to regular self care are at a high risk of burnout and can easily miss vital information from their clients!
It’s also ok to ask if they take breaks between clients or if they book back to back.
A therapist who sees 10 clients in a row is likely not going to be able to prepare properly for the next session, complete appropriate chart notes and assess and modify case formulations as you progress through therapy.
A great question to ask a clinician is – how and when do you know your client is making progress? What do you do if they don’t seem to be making progress!
You can also ask if the clinician attends regular training – it’s great to have a therapist who stays engaged and motivated to learn in the clinical world but if they’re off traveling for training 6 months in the year..it might not leave them very accessible to you!
Many therapists are happy to share that they are versed in CBT, EMDR, DBT, EFT etc – all acronyms I can share with you in another post. I
While it’s good for you to have an idea of which modality you’d like but
it’s more important for your therapist to be certified in these modalities and to be able to put together a treatment plan that works for you.
Go ahead, ask their credentials and if they're trained!
If you feel good after that, book your assessment and develop a co-created treatment plan that identifies your needs, goals, and potential barriers should get you well on your way!
I hope this helps and would love to hear your feedback!
American Psychologist © 2017 American Psychological Association 2017, Vol. 72, No. 4, 311–325 0003-066X/17/$12.00 http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/a0040435
Farah Kurji (BSW, MSW, RCSW, YTT, EMDR CIT) is an advanced trained clinician specializing in trauma, loss, anxiety, depression, and birthing experiences. She includes EMDR & CBT amongst her treatment modalities. Farah also provides clinical consultations and debriefing. You can book with her or her team HERE.