The Wall Street Journal just ran a nice little piece on how to go about choosing the right therapist. I love seeing articles like this in publications like that. The article noted there are different types of therapists, therapies, etc and that what works for one person might not work for the next.
I loved that the author suggested becoming an informed consumer when seeing psychotherapy, but readers should know that some of the suggestion questions are not always answerable. For example, it is perfectly appropriate to ask a therapist about his training or her experience in working with your particular symptoms. It is also quite reasonable to ask about the proposed treatment approach, duration of treatment, etc. However some of these questions cannot be answered definitively after just one session. For example, new patients to my practice often ask, at the end of the initial consultation, how long will therapy take. I explain that I really can’t answer that question with much confidence because there are simply too many variables – – known and unknown variables – – that will affect the duration of our work together.
I add that there are some folks I work with for just a handful of sessions and that is all they need to achieve their desired goals, and there are other people who I have worked with for several years. A key element within longer-term treatment is regularly circling back throughout the therapeutic process and reassessing if it is still appropriate to continue treatment; I would never want to work with a patient (and charge him or her, of course, for services rendered) and have the treatment not be of significant benefit. Ethically, any good psychologist would terminate treatment if s/he feels it is no longer of benefit to the patient.