Common Therapy Questions A Therapist Will Ask

Updated October 6, 2022 by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Talk therapy is sometimes a mysterious concept that is often hard to find clear information on. A lot of available therapy information is vague, and therapy's representation in the media — movies, TV shows, and books — often sets up unrealistic expectations. This may be the same when you try to ask your family about therapy and what they think of it. You may not have an understanding of the common therapy questions a therapist will ask, many of which may be open-ended, so you can provide a professional with more information. However, it may be important for you to understand open-ended questions asked when it comes to therapy, and this is okay.

Additionally, therapists maintain strict confidentiality for their patients and cannot give out information if you aren't their client. We've compiled a helpful resource so you can gain more insights into the process of therapy, including how it can help improve your mental well-being. Keep reading for details on questions that therapists ask their patients.

Common Therapy Questions

Not Satisfied With Traditional Therapy?

What Is Therapy?

The actual definition of therapy is a process of receiving professional assistance with physical, mental, or emotional problems that affect your life. However, there is no one-size-fits-all in the world of mental health. Couples who are experiencing relationship problems will likely seek help from a licensed marriage and family counselor for family therapy, whereas someone experiencing depression will likely engage in cognitive behavioral therapy.

Most approaches involve talking with a therapist one-on-one or in a group, and is called talk therapy. There are other types of therapy that you may want to take advantage of as well, including music therapy. Keep in mind that all types of therapy have different advantages and may lead you to make positive changes in your life. For example, music therapy may be able to improve your mood and clear your mind you may need to do some research to determine what approach is best for you, your family, and your life. You can search online using open-ended questions in order to find out more about each therapy approach. Open-ended means that there may not be a short or precise answer.

Also, talk therapy can include other components like meditation, mindfulness, or behavioral component. Some other common ones are dialectical behavioral, narrative, play, music therapy, family therapy, and solution-focused/brief therapy. Since therapists understand that not everyone will benefit from the same form of treatment, most therapists are eclectic and pull different techniques from different theories and therapies. So, when you are looking for a therapist, it is good to know an approach that you think you might benefit from but try not to get too rigid with what you think is best for you. You are seeking therapy for the expertise of the therapist, and they might believe that you would benefit from a different approach. Remember that it is important for you to trust your therapist in order for the counseling process to work effectively. 

Is Therapy Right for Me?

Rarely is therapy "wrong" for a person or family. At worst, you might find that speaking with a mental health professional did not help, but it did not hurt either. You may find that a particular mental health professional is not helping you make positive changes. This just means you should search for someone better suited to fit your needs. One of the most important things between a therapist and a client is not the expertise of the therapist or the approach used but the rapport and relationship between the two people, which is known as a therapeutic relationship.

Therapy can be extremely helpful and make you feel heard in your life. You may find that it increases self-confidence and helps you learn more about your personal relationships and feelings. Some common conditions and symptoms that therapy sessions can help include:

  • Stress and anxiety
  • Depression
  • Trauma
  • Physical chronic pain
  • Concerns about family or relationships
  • Personality and behavioral concerns

If you do not feel a connection with your therapist after the first therapy session, you may want to determine if you would like to work with a different professional. Just be sure that you have adequately met with them before you decide whether or not you would like to continue therapy with them. For instance, if you have not answered any open-ended questions that they have asked you, a professional might not have enough information to treat you. Be sure to be diligent when it comes to answering questions that are open-ended since they can tell your therapist so much about you and your family. An example of an open-ended question is something like, “how would you describe your home life?”

The goal is for the therapist to create a safe space for the client to grow and explore and emote. This is an aspect of positive psychology. Therapists will provide support, positive feedback, and suggestions. Trust is very important. Carl Rogers called this "unconditional positive regard," and he believed it was central to therapy and each therapy session. This is the idea that no matter what the client divulges, therapists will be there to listen, encourage, and support without judgment.

Why Should I Go To Therapy?

There are many reasons why people seek the help of a therapist. For people with long-term mental illnesses, such as depression, therapy is a way to relieve symptoms and help the client cope with their illness. However, therapists can also be a useful tool for a person without a diagnosable disorder. These people might have experienced a traumatizing event (like the loss of a loved one) and are struggling to cope with the experience in their daily life and they may be making an unconscious attempt to control how they are feeling, which is causing them stress or may cause them to be at risk for drug use.

While other people may utilize a therapy session to occasionally speak with someone, as a mental checkup or maintenance. No matter your reason, it is necessary to answer their open-ended questions for you, so you will have the best chance of seeing a difference in how you are feeling. These open-ended queries help a therapist find out more about your condition and your views on your life and family, so they will know how to approach your situation properly.

Working Towards Solutions Together

Most therapists will be unlikely to tell you that you don't need therapy if you are seeking it out, but they may guide you to understand that you have the solutions inside yourself and need help bringing them out, which is another part of positive psychology. This may be accomplished through the answers provided for open-ended questions that your therapist asked you during your visits with them.

Therapists understand that a person's perspective of their problems is the most important factor in deciding if they need help or not. It may also help a person make positive changes in their life. If you reach the end of your treatment episode and are no longer in need of live sessions, the therapist will address this with you and discuss termination. This is a positive thing — it means you have accomplished your therapy goals.

At times, you may be working with a therapist who does not feel like they are the best fit for you and that you are not benefiting from their service. You may not have seen positive changes in your daily life yet, and instead have experienced more stress. If this happens, the therapist should explain why this decision has been made, let you express your feelings, and the therapist should offer you referrals to other therapists likely to be better for your needs. For example, perhaps a specific type of therapy such as positive psychology or music therapy would be a better fit for you.

It may sound strange, but this is the responsible and ethical response on the part of the therapist if this is the case. However, you may be able to get a sense of your therapist during the first appointment, whether you are sure you will be able to work with them as a client or not. If they chose to ask open-ended questions and you responded to them, there is a chance they will be able to lend a hand in terms of your treatment. The responses provide for an open-ended quiz your therapist may ask and could provide them with a wealth of information.

Here are some common questions therapists may ask you:

  • How is your focus at work or school?
  • Do you have a preference on how we go about focusing on these issues?
  • Do you want to talk about your childhood?
  • Are there any concerns you need to address with me before we start?

You may also be asked to fill out a form with responses about your medical and therapeutic history before you meet with this person. Therapists want to make sure they understand their clients and their lives, so they will try to get to a point where you can find healing by asking therapy questions to get to know you and your situation. They may take notes for a client while discussing these topics. You may find that you eventually come across a “miracle question,” which allows your therapist to learn enough about you to streamline your therapy process and individualize your treatment plan.

Still Have Therapy Questions?

Not Satisfied With Traditional Therapy?

There are many questions that only you as a client can answer regarding your desire to talk with a mental health professional. Know that in choosing a therapist, the most important factor is that you feel comfortable opening up to this person. Therapy may take a few sessions or months of talking. Always remember that you only get out as much as you put in. You need to be honest with yourself in asking if you are ready for therapy and ready to put in the effort. If you are experiencing depression, stress, anxiety, or another mental health condition, you may need to talk to a therapist as soon as possible.

This is a relationship that takes time to build and often the first session is largely the therapist assessing your needs, so it often takes a few sessions to form a solid opinion of your therapist. This is important — if you are not satisfied or are looking for something different, speak up. Tell your therapist and give them a chance to meet your needs as a client. It is exhausting and time-consuming to meet with the therapist after therapist. Try to set yourself and your therapist up for success by being honest and upfront about your needs and feelings. You can ask them to answer questions about their approach to therapy and what their professional background is. Just be certain that all your questions aren’t open ended, since this may lead to negative thinking about your therapist. This may help you become more comfortable with them. On the other hand, be sure to answer their open ended questions for you, when this is possible.

Conclusion

For further questions about counseling, there are many online resources to help. There is the opportunity to speak directly with a licensed therapist online. If you feel that searching for the best therapist is difficult to do in person, receiving online counseling may be beneficial for you. When you opt for online therapy, there are still intake forms and things to inbox sign, so you can make sure that you are getting the trusted help that you require.

Working With BetterHelp's Mental Health Professionals

It's Easy To Start Therapy

You can get started today and get all the questions for therapy you need to be answered from an online therapy website or through a therapist online. BetterHelp is a great platform for this. You can get started anywhere you have an internet connection and all you need is a smartphone, tablet, or computer.Research shows that online therapy can be effective when it comes to treating depression, so consider therapy and become a client when you are ready to do so.

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