It can be helpful if you rely on yourself, at least in part, to make sure you are getting the best therapy possible. I believe that learning how to advocate for yourself to the best of your ability can actually be an important part of the therapeutic process. A simple evaluation process can be the first step towards self-advocacy.
You’ve just made a first appointment with a therapist. You want to know what to look for, how to assess if this is the right therapist for you. You can set this checklist aside and read it later, after therapy, so you can focus more on being in the present with the therapist. (You might prefer to read the check list below before your first appointment if you like, to keep some points in mind.) It is up to you.
After your first appointment is the time to begin getting in touch with your thoughts and feelings about therapy and any therapist you are considering working with. This worksheet will help you evaluate a therapist after the first session.
Not every question will apply to every situation, so don’t worry if you aren’t able to answer every question. Also, of the questions you are able to answer, you most likely won’t be able to check off every positive answer. Still, the majority of your those questions you are able to answer should be positive.
Question 14 might be obviously essential, but the basics should still be there.
Patient’s Therapist Evaluation Checklist
(Check Yes or No)
1. The therapist’s office was reasonably comfortable and clean.
Yes, the office was comfortable and clean.
No, the office was not comfortable and clean.
2. The therapist was punctual, or, if not, let me know he or she was running late with an urgent situation.
Yes, the therapist was punctual.
No, he was not punctual.
3. The therapist maintained healthy physical boundaries and did not use inappropriate touch.
Yes, the therapist maintained healthy physical boundaries and did not use inappropriate touch.
No, the therapist didn’t maintain healthy physical boundaries and touched me inappropriately.
4. The therapist was forthcoming when (if) I asked to see his/her credentials.
Yes, s/he showed me her/his credentials when asked.
No, s/he did not show me her/his credentials when asked.
5. The therapist clearly answered any questions I had about his/her credentials or referred me to resources that could help me understand.
Yes, s/he answered my questions about credentials.
No, s/he didn’t answer my questions about credentials.
6. The therapist seemed to be caring and concerned about me.
Yes, s/he seemed to be caring and concerned.
No, s/he did not seem to be caring and concerned.
7. The therapist asked a lot of questions during my first visit.
Yes, s/he asked a lot of questions.
No, s/he did not ask a lot of questions.
8. The therapist listened carefully to my answers.
Yes, s/he listened carefully to my answers.
No, s/he did not appear to listen carefully to my answers.
9. The therapist did a biopsychosocial evaluation and wrote down my answers. (In certain cases this might take a couple of visits to complete, but it should start during the first session.)
Yes, s/he did an evaluation and wrote down my answers.
No, s/he did not do an evaluation.
10. The therapist asked me basic questions about who I am, questions about my mental health, questions about substance abuse, and questions about my physical health. (This might take a couple of visits to complete.)
Yes, s/he asked about my mental and physical health and if I use or abuse drugs or alcohol.
No, s/he did not ask me about my mental and physical health and if I use or abuse drugs or alcohol.
11. The therapist answered my questions in a detailed manner about what would happen next if I chose to continue therapy with him/her.
Yes, s/he answered my questions.
No, s/he did not answer my questions.
12. The therapist did not pressure me to make another appointment.
Yes, s/he did not pressure me.
No, s/he pressured me.
13. The balance of talking and listening during my session was comfortable for me.
Yes, it was.
No, it was not.
14. Overall I feel comfortable with this therapist and think that he/she can help me.
Yes, I feel comfortable with this therapist.
No, I do not feel comfortable with this therapist.
The information in this post was adapted from Therapy Revolution: Find Help, Get Better, and Move On (HCI Books)