Seeing a psychologist is the right decision for a lot of people, but the extent to which talking to a psychologist can benefit you depends on many factors. In order for therapy to work, you and your psychologist should establish a strong sense of rapport, trust, and confidence in one another. You must feel comfortable and able to communicate openly with your psychologist. Additionally, there are many treatment types and areas of expertise, and one style or area of focus may be more effective than another for your issue. For these reasons, it is important to find a psychologist you trust and who has the background and philosophy that best meet your needs.
Please note: The areas of expertise and treatment types listed by each psychologist are examples to guide your search. Not all psychologists will provide treatment for the example conditions listed. Please contact a psychologist’s office to discuss their particular areas of expertise and treatment types to determine whether their practice meets your needs.
Your Best-Fit Checklist
- Search the FindaPsychologist.org database: You can access our database of more than 10,000 credentialed psychologists. Feel free to customize your search based on areas of expertise, treatment type, and other categories, such as language spoken and insurance accepted. Click the “Learn More” button on search results to view full profile details for psychologists.
- Identify at least three potential psychologists: FindaPsychologist.org allows you to “save” psychologist profiles from your search results. If you find a psychologist who might be a good fit for your needs, click the “Save to My List” bookmark on the psychologist’s profile. You can access your saved profiles at a later time.
- Interview by phone: Once you have identified at least three psychologists, you can interview them by phone by calling the phone number displayed on their profile. Some examples of questions to ask are listed below, but make sure you ask additional questions that are important to you. It is important to consider a psychologist’s overall qualifications and your own feelings about a particular provider.
- Schedule your first face-to-face session: When you find the psychologist you would like to see, schedule your first appointment. Once you begin communicating your concerns, it is important to ask yourself, “Is this person someone I feel comfortable opening up to?” Keep in mind that you may not find your best fit on the first try.
- During your treatment: If you believe that you cannot form an effective relationship with your psychologist or that you are not making progress in treatment, you should discuss this openly with your psychologist.
Questions to Ask a Potential Psychologist
At which university and program did you receive your doctoral degree?
Are you licensed as a psychologist in this state?
To verify that the psychologist is licensed in your state, search their jurisdiction’s licensing board website (which is separate from the state’s psychological association). All psychologists who provided psychotherapy or other psychological services to patients must be licensed. You should make sure that your psychologist has a current license. Many insurance companies will not reimburse for services provided by unlicensed psychologists.
What experience do you have working with my concern?
Ask about the psychologist’s expertise regarding the specific issue for which you are seeking help. You may also ask about the psychologist’s experience working with your age group, culture, sexual orientation, or other key points.
Do you accept insurance?
If the psychologist accepts insurance, do they accept your specific insurance? If not, what is the psychologist’s fee structure and how is payment collected? How much out-of-pocket payment would be required? Ensure you have a full understanding of payment details to help determine whether this psychologist meets your needs.
Have you ever had a disciplinary action filed against you?
Examples of places that may have disciplined a psychologist include any state licensing board or ethics board, a professional organization, their graduate school or program, the National Register, or the American Psychological Association.
What treatment methods do you commonly use to help an issue like mine?
Make sure to ask any follow-up questions needed to fully understand what is involved in the treatment process. Additional questions could include length of treatment for this issue and any special assessment techniques or questionnaires used.
Are there exceptions to confidentiality for treatment sessions?
What kind of information can the psychologist share with others and under what circumstances? Most psychotherapy is confidential between you and the psychologist, and the psychologist cannot tell anyone else, but ask about exceptions to confidentiality, including the circumstances under which a psychologist will break confidentiality.
Can you tell me about your “informed consent” procedures?
All psychologists should ask you to sign an informed consent document before you begin treatment. This document covers important information like the kind and length of therapy, the projected cost of treatment or insurance accepted, HIPPA compliance, and if/when the psychologist can break rules of confidentiality.
An Important Reminder
Psychology treatment never includes sexual activity with a therapist. If you believe your therapist is behaving in an unethical manner, contact the board of psychology in your state to report this behavior.