Questions for counseling
Therapy Questions Every Therapist Should Be Asking
Healing conversations are an art form in peril of being lost to our busy lives.
The ultimate goal of talk therapy is to enable the process of psychological and emotional healing along the continuum from the problematic toward a sense of greater mental wellbeing.
Although we often come to therapy with a problem, we also come as people who want to be heard and understood, feel like we matter, wish to learn self-compassion, and want to find partnership in helping us heal and see ourselves and our life situation in a different light.
I would rather have questions that can’t be answered than answers that can’t be questioned.
Progress in a therapeutic relationship cannot be made unless the client feels safe to speak their mind, and it is on the practitioner to create that climate of openness and transparency.
The process also often requires the clinician’s willingness to work diligently to help clients understand what they want, the patience to help them learn to own all aspects of themselves, including contradictory feelings, and the ability to create a safe space to allow for transformation to occur.
Most of what happens in talk therapy is accomplished through the skillful use of questions, but only second to a lot of active listening.
This article surveys different approaches to asking therapeutic questions meant for both practitioners and their clients and gives examples of how the quality of questions we ask can improve our lives. For more common therapy questions, see our related post: Classic Therapy Questions Therapists Tend to Ask.
Before you continue, we thought you might like to download our three Positive Psychology Exercises for free. These science-based exercises will explore fundamental aspects of positive psychology including strengths, values, and self-compassion, and will give you the tools to enhance the wellbeing of your clients, students, or employees.
This Article Contains:
- 7 Questions Designed for the First Therapy Session
- Therapy Intake Questions to Ask Patients
- 15 Useful Therapy Questions to Ask Yourself
- 20 Couples Therapy Questions Designed to Improve Relationships
- 30 Family Therapy Assessment Questions
- The Family Therapy Questions Game
- Therapeutic Questions for Youth
- 15 Therapeutic Questions for Group Therapy Discussions
- A Take-Home Message
7 Questions Designed for the First Therapy Session
The first therapy session must focus on relationship building and creating rapport, which are necessary to establish an effective foundation for a practitioner–client relationship, often referred to as the therapeutic alliance. The outcomes of therapy are heavily dependent on the quality of this relationship (Lambert & Barley, 2001).
Ideally, the first therapy session should be a form of positive inception so the practitioner can set the stage for future interactions. Carl Rogers (1961) used to say that the therapist must create an environment where everyone can be themselves.
Courage doesn’t happen when you have all the answers. It happens when you are ready to face the questions you have been avoiding your whole life.
Shannon L. Alder
The very first question in therapy is usually about the presenting problem or the chief complaint for which the client comes to therapy, often followed by an exploration of the client’s past experience with therapy, if any, and their expectations of future outcomes of therapy.
1. What brings you here today?
For clients who need encouragement to open up, it may be helpful to remark on their bravery in seeking therapy.
For those who are at the other extreme and go into a lengthy and detailed explanation of their issues, perhaps having been in therapy before, it is best to listen empathically first before complimenting them on how well they appear to know themselves and how they have thought a lot about what they would like to talk about in therapy.
2. Have you ever seen a counselor before?
For those who are in therapy for the first time, observing how comfortable and confident they are in talking about the challenges in their life can help set the stage for further disclosure.
It may be helpful to set some expectation of what is going to happen in the therapeutic process by explaining how asking questions is at the core of the process and reassuring the client that they should feel free to interrupt at any time and to steer the conversation to where they need it to go.
If the client has seen a counselor before, it can prove very valuable to inquire further about their previous experience in therapy by asking about frequency, duration, and issues discussed during their previous engagements, as well as one thing they remember most that a former counselor told them.
An important aspect for gauging clients’ engagement in the process of therapy is asking them about what went right or didn’t turn out the way they would have liked in their previous therapeutic engagement, as this can point to where they place the sense of responsibility for their situation.
Inquiring if the client achieved the results they sought and if they have been successful in maintaining them outside of the therapeutic relationship can also provide valuable insight into their motivation for change.
3. What do you expect from the counseling process?
Establishing a mutual agreement and setting expectations for the engagement is crucial to making progress. Clients’ goals and preferences for the format and level of interaction need to be taken into consideration.
Some clients like to vent and have the counselor listen; others want a high level of interaction and a spirited back-and-forth. It is also important to inquire how the client learns best and if they like to receive homework.
Other examples of questions that can point to the tone and flow of future communications can include the following:
- How many meetings do you think it will take to achieve your goals?
- How might you undermine achieving your own goals?
- How do you feel about using good advice to grow from?
- How will we know when we have been successful in achieving your goals for therapy?
Therapy Intake Questions to Ask Patients
Levy et al. (2018) analyzed records from healthcare providers and found that:
- 45.7% of adults avoided telling their providers that they disagreed with their care recommendations.
- 81.8% of adults withheld information because they didn’t want to be lectured or judged.
Many aspects of clients’ lives can influence their engagement and progress in therapy.
Indeed, questions about preexisting medical conditions, current and past treatments, medications, and family history are essential to the effective assessment of needs and the successful provision of therapeutic treatment. Therefore, having a clear picture of these details is a critical part of the initial intake process.
In order to gather this information securely and efficiently, therapists are increasingly drawing on digital technologies. For instance, using a blended care platform such as Quenza (pictured here), therapists can design and distribute standardized sets of intake materials, such as forms and agreements, that clients can complete on their own devices and at a time that suits them.
The benefits of providing intake forms digitally is that they can facilitate better documentation and record keeping for practitioners. Additionally, and unlike paper forms, they can be programmed to ensure no critical questions are accidentally missed.
It is important to note that while most therapists do not prescribe medication, many often partner with other medical professionals by making recommendations, particularly in instances when clients have been referred for therapy.
An intake form is attached and can be a useful guide for some of the issues that may require further exploration.
15 Useful Therapy Questions to Ask Yourself
We get into thinking ruts and routines and often function on autopilot without giving much consideration to the way we go about our day or spend our time and energy.
We can break this mindless cycle by asking meaningful questions of ourselves and reflecting deeply on our thoughts, emotions, and behavior. Many self-help therapy books have popularized a way of doing just that.
One such approach can be found in vastly popular notebooks that provide inspirational therapy quotes or reflective writing prompts that get our cognitive wheels spinning.
The most important questions in life can never be answered by anyone except oneself.
John Fowles, The Magus
Another important form of self-inquiry is to ask yourself questions that we can’t answer honestly in the presence of anyone else, probing and burning questions that we can often only answer for ourselves. They may require some reflection, examination of values, and perhaps writing, if only to organize our thoughts.
Here is a list of important questions we should revisit periodically:
- Assessing our life satisfaction – Tools like the Wheel of Life (accessible via the linked post) or one of the many Happiness Assessments are a great place to start.
- Exploring meaning in our lives – Our masterclass in Meaning and Valued Living is a great place to start.
- Defining our values – value exploration exercises
- Finding character strengths – VIA Strengths Assessment
- Visualizing goals – SMART goal setting, tracking how we invest our time with experience sampling method or Miracle Question (included below)
- Cultivating gratitude – Three good things exercise
- Practicing forgiveness – Empty chair technique (included below)
- Making bucket lists
Other useful questions are those that we can use to motivate ourselves. For example, appreciative inquiry questions focus on strengths and the propelling power our past successes can have on self-efficacy and motivation toward goal pursuit.
Here are a few examples of questions and prompts based on appreciative inquiry:
- Think back through your career. Locate a moment that was a high point, when you felt most productive and engaged. Describe how you felt and what made the situation possible.
- Without being humble, describe what you value most about yourself and your work.
- Describe your three concrete wishes for your future.
- Describe the most energizing moment, a real “high” from your professional life. What made it happen?
- How do you stay professionally affirmed, renewed, enthusiastic, and inspired?
Sometimes, self-therapy can feel like chasing our tail, particularly for those who already live in their heads a bit too much and may feel a bit stuck.
The most important questions to ask ourselves at this point are those that allow us to evaluate whether we should be reaching for help and if our situation warrants considering therapy.
- Have I struggled to be myself lately?
- Has daily life felt harder lately?
- Do I have a confidante who I can trust to be impartial?
- Is there a big choice in my life I have been struggling with?
- Is my worry increasing, and are my thoughts less logical?
- Have I lost interest in things I used to love lately?
- Have friends been avoiding me or saying they have been worried about me?
- Am I just not bouncing back from something?
- Do I have a habit that I keep secret from others that causes me ongoing shame and life problems?
- Do I spend most of my time feeling worthless compared to others?
20 Couples Therapy Questions Designed to Improve Relationships
Dr. John Gottman, an expert marriage therapist who has observed couples for over 40 years, tells us that we have a very high chance for miscommunication in close relationships (Gottman & Silver, 2015).
How do we cope with those unfavorable odds? Through acceptance, the practice of active listening, and the realization that relational conflict is an opportunity for growth.
Lack of acceptance is often an important component of relationship gridlock, as it causes both people to feel criticized or rejected (Gottman & Silver, 2015). There are always two points of view, both valid and right, from within each perception.
The need to be right prevents us from actively listening to each other. Communicating fundamental acceptance instead of rejection of the other person’s personality is therefore basic to all effective problem solving.
Active listening requires practice and comes down to moving from self-informed certainty to curiosity about the other person. It helps to adopt an “and stance,” where both stories are valid, the world is complex, both partners can get angry, both contribute to the situation, and both are doing their best.
Couples can improve their odds of having a productive talk by (Gottman & Silver, 2015):
- Finding things in common (Gottman and Silver recommend having good Love Maps of each other)
- Getting to know each other’s flexible and inflexible areas for negotiations
- Offering to help meet the core needs of another person
- If gridlock seems unavoidable, figuring out if we need a temporary compromise
What often happens in couples therapy is an equivalent of the two people getting to know each other in a different way, improving communications, and learning that conflict can be an opportunity for growth.
Some of the most common questions explored in couples therapy include:
- Why choose today?
- How did you decide to come to therapy?
- What brought you together in the first place?
- How does your relationship affect your levels of joy?
- What do you wish your partner would do more?
- How do you cultivate trust in your relationship?
- Describe your level of satisfaction with intimacy in your relationship.
- How would you rate your communication skills: negative, neutral, or positive?
- What positive relationship rules do you follow?
- In the recent past, what did you do when your partner disappointed you?
- How much can you recall about what your partner did last week?
- How would you describe your other relationships, like those with family and friends?
- What family conflicts have you been embroiled in recently?
- What relationship have you been in that you judged to be a failure?
- Who do you call upon when your heart is hurting?
- What is your most significant vulnerability or Achilles heel in relationships?
- What is your relationship forecast for both now and in the future?
- What counseling questions do you hope aren’t asked?
30 Family Therapy Assessment Questions
Some of the most important relationships in our lives can be both a source of happiness and the greatest struggle at the same time. The closest people in our lives influence in no small degree who we become as a person and shape our view of the world around us in significant ways we often underestimate.
Some approaches to family therapy employ systemic interpretations; for example, depression may be viewed as a symptom of a problem in the larger family.
When a family seeks counseling, the questions focus on the relationship’s dynamics, everyone’s met and unmet needs, and goals for the relationships. Assessing these factors, while it may seem complicated at first, is nevertheless worth the time.
Dysfunctional communication patterns within the family can be identified and corrected through teaching family members how to listen, ask questions, and respond non-defensively.
The genogram is one such tool used in family therapy. It’s mostly a family tree that provides a visual representation of three to four generations and explores how patterns or themes within families influence their current behavior and identifies whether relationships in the family have been close, distant, or ridden with conflicts.
It asks about values, beliefs, traditions, characteristics, and habits of family members, including health issues, alcohol and drug use, physical and mental health, violence, crime and trouble with the law, employment, and education. See Simple Guide to Genograms.
Some of the questions about relationships between family members include:
- Who are you closest to?
- What is/was your relationship like with… ?
- How often do you see… ?
- Where does … live now?
- Is there anyone here that you really don’t get along with?
- Is there anyone else who is very close in the family? Or who really don’t get along?
When exploring patterns and themes, good questions are:
- Who are you most like?
- What is … like? Who else is like them?
- Did anyone else leave home early?
- Is anyone else interested in art/science/etc.?
The following questions may also help explore the family background and family dynamics:
- Who is important to you in your life? Why are these particular people important?
- Who provides the most support in your life?
- How have members of your family reacted to the problems that you are currently experiencing?
- Are members of your extended family aware of what you have been experiencing?
- What was it like growing up in your family?
- Perhaps you could talk about some of the memories, both good and not so good.
- What is it like for you right now living in your family?
- How do you think your family might describe you? What qualities or strengths might they say you have?
- Are there members of your extended family who you feel close to or feel that you have something in common with?
- Did you feel safe in your family?
- How does your family handle disagreements?
- Is it okay to express your emotions in your family? To feel happy, sad, frustrated, angry, content, etc.?
- Tell me about your different family members and how they express their emotions.
- Were there times when you were worried about any of your family members? Why were you worried? How were these concerns handled?
- What qualities do you bring to your family that are special or unique?
- Were there any special activities that you did together?
- Did your family mix with other families?
- What other information would you like me to know about your family that will be helpful during our time together?
The Family Therapy Questions Game
One of the most effective ways to address family dynamics, particularly when it involves children, is by playing games. It removes the formality and allows for interaction to unfold in a nonthreatening way that often brings out the best in all participants.
While it is fun for the children, it also allows the adults to regress for a moment and get down to the level of being playful and spontaneous. In the end, we find out that we don’t know as much as we thought we did about the most important people in our lives.
The family conversation starters below can be used in a family therapy session as well as at home. They can and should be personalized in a way that is age appropriate and has a specific goal in mind: to bring family members together, help them communicate effectively, express their emotions, or move toward constructive problem solving.
Another great activity known as ‘What will they say?‘ encourages family members to guess what another family member will say in response to a question (Lowenstein, 2010).
It allows family members not only to get to know each other better, but also to develop skills in asking each other questions, understanding that there are things that are similar between family members and things that are different. Finally, it helps make the point that family members, especially parents, may not know as much about each other as they think they do.
Create at least 20 questions, such as:
- What is your favorite color?
- What is your favorite dessert?
- Who do you think gets angry the most in the family?
- Who cries the most in the family?
- Who laughs the most in the family?
- Who watches TV the most in the family?
- Who gives the most support to you?
- Who gives Mom/Dad the most support?
- What would the family member on your left like to get for their birthday?
- Who is the best at following the rules?
- Who sets the most rules?
To use these games effectively, it helps to make sure the questions connect to a family goal. The game can move reasonably quickly, giving everyone a turn and ending the session on a high note. Finally, many existing games, especially games and activities the family is already familiar with, can be adapted to provide an opportunity for a meaningful conversation.
Therapeutic Questions for Youth
There is no time more ridden with unanswered questions and throbbing with urgency as in our youth.
As teens grapple with discovering their identities and setting directions for their lives, it is an excellent opportunity to set standards for a self-reflective and inquisitive mind that is open to honest discussions and not afraid to ask questions.
As the saying goes, if we ask good questions, we get better answers. Below is a list of questions most frequently used in therapy with pre-teens to young adults and that anyone might find interesting.
- What is the best compliment you have received?
- In your opinion, what is the best song ever written?
- If you could know one thing about the future, what would it be?
- What is something you feel nervous about right now?
- What is your happiest memory?
- What is something that you did that you are proud of?
- If someone’s underwear were showing, would you tell them?
- I get mad when…
- What calms you down when you get angry or upset?
- What is your favorite animal and why?
- My favorite sound is…
- What is your favorite green thing?
- If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?
- If your house was burning down, what one item would you grab and why?
- Name two anger management techniques.
- Name two positive values.
- Name two ways you can show self-control in the school setting.
- What would be the title of your autobiography?
- Do you think people talk differently online than they do in person? Why?
- What is one item you can’t live without?
- What would you do if you were hungry and a lunchbox was left open and unattended?
- What is better, giving your money or giving your time?
- If you could add, change, or cancel one rule in your school, what would it be?
- What does “habit” mean, and why is it hard to change?
- Who do you trust the most and why?
- Where do you feel the safest and why?
- If you could change one rule that your family has, what would it be and why?
- What is one word you would use to describe your family and why?
- How do you think others view you and why?
- If you could travel back in time to years ago and visit your younger self, what advice would you give yourself?
- What five words best describe you?
- If you could make one rule that everyone in the world had to follow, what would it be and why?
- What does respect mean to you? Give an example.
- What do you like the most about yourself?
- If you could give one gift to every child in the world, what would it be and why?
- What do you think is the most important job in the world? Why?
- Tell us about a time when you felt sad. What helped get you through it?
- What is the first symptom you notice when you feel mad?
- Give two examples of acts of kindness.
- Who is someone you consider a real-life hero and why?
- Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
- Who do you wish you had a better relationship with, and what would make it better?
- Share a time where you sought attention in an appropriate way. And in a negative way?
- Choose one person in this room and compliment them.
- Give two examples of communication with a teacher who accuses you of something you didn’t do.
- Talk about a time when you witnessed someone being teased. What effect did the teasing have on that person?
One assessment tool that is particularly useful in work with young people with complex needs is the ecomap. It is a visual representation of current family relationships and also community and social networks where clients are encouraged to identify whether their relationships with their peers, school, social clubs, professionals, are strong, weak, or stressful. See these templates.
15 Therapeutic Questions for Group Therapy Discussions
Group therapy serves two distinct goals. While it addresses exploration of issues very much in the same way that individual therapy does, it also serves the purpose of finding ourselves in the environment where we feel less isolated from other people because many of those in the room share similar struggles.
Just as in individual therapy, clients often enact the same tendencies they bring to all their other relationships, and the client interaction within a group can often be a good reflection of how they show up in the relationships with other people in their lives (Yalom, 1983).
While the therapist is trained in delivering structure for the discussion and guiding the questions, the biggest benefit lies in the exchange between participants. Leaders within the group are usually appointed and tasked with looking for commonalities among members and encouraging everyone to be supportive of each other.
Most group therapies are done in a round-robin discussion format. Rules of conduct are established and adhered to, roles assigned for leaders of the group, and the room set up usually in a circle to encourage collaboration and everyone having a voice. Questions used in group therapy often focus on very much the same themes as individual therapy and include the reasons for being there and the expectations for the future.
- Let’s start by spending a few minutes talking about the benefits of group therapy and what positive psychology groups are about.
- Let’s go around and have each member tell us what you expect to get out of the group
- Where else might you have been at this moment if you hadn’t come to this group session today?
- What might you have chosen to do?
- Is it your own decision to come here, or did someone else encourage you to do so?
- How do you feel about coming here each week?
- What do you like best about this session?
- Is there something you don’t enjoy about this group session?
- Are you particularly looking forward to anything?
Depending on the purpose of the group, be it anger management, bereavement, substance abuse, etc. , the content and the topics of discussion may vary. Although in a typical session, several topics and questions are provided, group leaders need not ask all questions or address all topics; instead, questions and topics should be selected as they relate to what is happening in the group. Some general questions could include:
- What brought each of you into the group?
- Tell us two or three words that best describe you.
- Now, thinking about those words, how do they relate to why you are here?
- What is your favorite thing about yourself, something that makes you feel positive and proud to be you?
- Is there something new that has happened in your life recently?
Homework assignments and progress logs can be used between sessions, and educational material and handouts may be distributed. Many sessions start with reviews of progress and end with a recap of the activities.
A Take-Home Message
The value of deep, probing questions need not be reserved for the therapy session. There is no reason why we can’t have more of these healing conversations in our lives, but it is both an art and science and requires some practice. We can all get better at asking questions we want answers to, and applying the therapeutic approach to the process of self-discovery can prove a worthwhile endeavor.
The scientist is not a person who gives the right answers, he’s one who asks the right questions.
What questions do you think are important to ask, in therapy or not?
We hope you enjoyed reading this article. Don’t forget to download our three Positive Psychology Exercises for free.
- Gottman, J. M., & Silver, N. (2015). The seven principles for making marriage work: A practical guide from the country’s foremost relationship expert. Harmony.
- Lambert, M., & Barley, D. E. (2001). Research summary on the therapeutic relationship and psychotherapy outcome. Psychotherapy: Theory, Research, Practice, Training, 38(4), 357–361.
- Levy, A. G., Scherer, A. M., Zikmund-Fisher, B. J., Larkin, K., Barnes, G. D., & Fagerlin, A. (2018). Prevalence of and factors associated with patient nondisclosure of medically relevant information to clinicians. JAMA Network Open, 1(7).
- Lowenstein, L. (2010). Creative family therapy techniques: Play, art, and expressive activities to engage children in family sessions. Champion Press.
- Rogers, C. (1961). On becoming a person: A therapist’s view of psychotherapy.
- Yalom, I. D. (1983). Inpatient group psychotherapy. Basic Books.
My 10 Favorite Questions to Ask Clients
Knowing the right things to ask makes a big difference. Here are 4 things I keep in mind when preparing questions for clients:
1. Great questions often start with a “what” or a “how”.
2. Having 2 or 3 powerful questions prepared in advance eases my anxiety.
3. Powerful questions are positive, clear, fun to ask, and future-oriented.
4. If I’m not genuinely curious about the answer, I shouldn’t ask the question.
“Sometimes questions are more important than answers.” – Nancy Willard
When I was going through the life coach certification process, I was encouraged to keep a list handy of my favorite questions. For years now, I’ve kept this list with me.My 10 Favorite Questions to Ask Clients
- What are you unclear about in your life, that if you figured it out, would make the biggest difference?
- What opportunities do you have right now?
- How would you act if you were 10 times bolder? (What would you do if success were guaranteed?)
- What does your ideal life look like in 2, 5, or 10 years?
- How do you want to be remembered by those you love when you’re gone?
- What changes do you need to make to have the life you want?
- What does “success” mean to you?
- What’s important to you about accomplishing this?
- What do you want? What are you saying “yes” to in your life right now?
- What do you like about yourself (interests, life experiences, personality traits, etc. )?
Bonus – These almost made my top 10 list. Actually, they’re just as good as the top 10
“The art and science of asking questions is the source of all knowledge.” – Thomas Berger
- What energizes you? (i.e. After you engage this person, place, thing, or activity, you’re encouraged.)
- What specifically are you worried about/afraid of here?
- If you were happier, how would people know?
- How could you view that differently? What’s another perspective?
- What has worked in the past to get you unstuck here?
- What else? Please tell me more about that.
- What support do you need? How can you get that support?
- What would your ideal daily schedule look like?
- How might your expectations be unrealistic here?
- What’s an assumption you have that might be holding you back?
How To Use These Questions
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Take the time to ask yourself each of these and write out your answers. Be honest with yourself. Self-honesty is one of the most challenging, revealing, and rewarding personal growth activities.
Powerful questions help you identify real issues you might be avoiding, and recognize solutions you might be ignoring. My hope is these questions transform your life, the lives of your clients, and the lives of those you love.
If you felt challenged by my simple questions, go through my online coaching course Tune Up For Life. Learning about having a healthy perspective, loving yourself better, living with balance, living out your core values and life purpose, goal setting, developing healthy habits, and more.
An Excellent Communication Game & Tool To Strengthen Your Work Team, Family, and Friendships. Includes 108 questions. Check it out!
20 Questions to Ignite Meaningful Conversations
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10 Fun Ice Breakers for Work Meetings and Social EventsAsking Great Questions that Build Meaningful Relationships – Podcast
questions for the first consultation and preparation for it
home / Blog / Cheat sheet for a psychologist: questions for the first consultation and preparation for it
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April 27, 2022
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The article was created with the participation of an expert
Lesnitskaya Olga Nikolaevna
Master of Psychology, practicing psychologist, specialist in the field of individual counseling, gestalt therapy, systemic phenomenological psychotherapy, musical art therapy.
Questions are the main tool in the work of a psychologist of any direction. With their help, the specialist helps the client to open up and clarify the request. Consider a sample list of questions that you can ask before and during the first consultation.
Questions before the session: when calling or chatting in instant messengers
It is important to determine the client's request even before the consultation in order to understand whether you work in this niche, with this category of clients and whether you can help at all. These questions can be asked by phone / text prior to the consultation, or at the first free session if you have one:
- What is your name / how can I contact you?
- How old are you?
- Who needs help - adult, child, couple?
- What made you turn to a psychologist? nine0030
The answers give a first impression of the client and his problem.
Questions for consultation will always be at hand
Get them by mail
Olga Lesnitskaya, our teacher-expert, Master of Psychology and a practicing psychologist, told us how to communicate with clients in instant messengers.
Now the majority of clients do not call, but write to instant messengers. The world is changing, that's normal. And it is important for us, psychologists, to take this into account and build it into our practice. Through messages, a specialist can also find out primary information, agree on meeting conditions and make an appointment with a client. nine0003
You can ask the person to write briefly about what brought them to you. If the topic falls under your specialization, you can set the conditions for the first meeting.
After this, it is important to give the person the opportunity to ask questions. Organizational questions must be answered. Questions that relate to the client's difficulties can be answered briefly or offered to be discussed during the consultation.
It happens that a person needs to think about the working conditions, and he does not answer or writes: "I need to think." It happens that the conditions are not suitable - this is normal. nine0003
What to do if a person does not answer, the psychologist decides based on personal ethics. In any case, you should not write to the client about your intentions and expectations in the forms: "When will you come?", "Waiting for you on Wednesday." Sometimes you can politely ask and offer your help, for example: “Hello, if my conditions do not suit you, write about what would suit you, and I will try to recommend colleagues.”
The main task of a specialist in writing through messages is to navigate the possible topic of the client's difficulties, to give information about his work. It is important to stay within the boundaries and not start therapy. nine0003
Lesnitskaya Olga Nikolaevna
At the end, you can ask: “How did you hear about my services?” This question will help you understand which channel for promoting the services of a psychologist works best. In the future, you can exclude channels with low efficiency. It will also help to better understand the audience: where clients “live” and how they find a psychologist.
Questions to start a conversation and create a relaxed atmosphere
Let's analyze separately the introductory questions for the first online consultation and face-to-face session. nine0003
Questions for the first online consultation:
- Can you hear and see me well?
- Is it convenient for you to talk, nothing interferes, does not distract?
- How do you feel?
It is important to make sure that nothing interferes with the consultation on the technical side. And the question about well-being is an introductory one that sets you up for a conversation.
Difficulties of psychological online counseling. Dealing with an expert how to solve problems nine0003
Questions for face-to-face meeting:
- How did you get there?
- Is it easy to find an office?
- Are you comfortable sitting?
- Would you like water, tea, coffee?
You can ask or say something neutral, for example: “It's such a nice weather today, isn't it?” It is important not to rush right off the bat, but to smoothly approach the topic of the consultation.
Seeing a psychologist is a stressful situation for most clients. Opening questions help ease anxiety and tension. nine0003
Take about 5 minutes for an introductory part and proceed to clarify the query:
- What brought you to me / what is bothering you?
- How long ago did this start?
- At the time this started, were there any changes in your life?
- Have you already consulted a psychologist and what was the outcome of your appeal?
- What did you try to solve the problem?
- Has the problem always manifested itself the way it does now, or has something changed? nine0030
- How often does the problem come up? When does it get stronger and when does it get weaker?
- How does the problem affect your life, its individual areas?
- How do you feel when you talk about a problem?
- What has already been done to solve the problem? What helped and how, and what did not help.
- Have you told anyone about your experiences?
- Is there anyone who supports you?
- Why did you decide to turn to a psychologist right now? nine0030
- What do you expect from today's consultation and therapy in general?
- How do you see our work and what are you ready to do to solve the problem?
- How do you see the result of therapy, are there any criteria by which you can determine that the problem has been solved?
- How long do you expect to solve the problem?
Ask any questions that will help you better understand the client, their condition and problem. All questions can be divided into 3 groups: how, why and what. They help to understand the processes that take place in the life of the client and inside him, his needs and desires, specific manifestations. nine0003
Example. The client is worried that he often yells at others. HOW it happens: “When they don’t understand me the first time, I turn to screaming. ” WHY the client shouts: "To be heard and understood." WHAT the client feels: “Powerlessness and resentment when they don’t notice me, they don’t understand me.”
Questions for debriefing
The purpose of the first consultation is to get to know the client, to determine the true request with which you will work. It happens that in the process the request changes. For example, a client came up with the problem “I can’t build a relationship”, and during the consultation it turned out that there was a fear of intimacy behind this - this is a request that needs to be worked on. nine0003
Also at the first consultation it is necessary to determine the possibilities of therapy specifically for this client. Therefore, at the end of the session, it is important to summarize:
- What was the consultation about for you?
- What did you leave with, what did you learn?
- Has your condition changed? If so, how?
- Maybe you want to say something else, remember something important?
- Do you want to continue working?
- What would you like to discuss next? nine0030
- Do you want to ask me something?
Remember that psychological counseling is a creative process. It is important to follow the client, and not tailor the consultation strictly to the algorithm. It is important to pay attention not only to the client's responses, but also to his facial expressions, gestures, tone of voice, rate of speech and other non-verbal signs.
- Algorithm for the first consultation with a psychologist: with examples and advice from practitioners nine0029 Psychologist and client: how to build relationships correctly
- 6 ethical principles that will keep the reputation of a psychologist. With examples
- Interview with Olga Lesnitskaya: about Gestalt therapy, self-discovery and fear of the unknown
- Who is a Gestalt therapist and how to become one
The article was created with the participation of an expert
Lesnitskaya Olga Nikolaevna
Master of Psychology, practicing psychologist, specialist in the field of individual counseling, gestalt therapy, systemic phenomenological psychotherapy, musical art therapy.
What questions should I ask the doctor at the consultation? — Into-Sana
Often, when we leave the doctor's office, we remember that we forgot to ask a series of questions. And after some time, everything that was clear at the reception becomes incomprehensible. To avoid such situations, we have tried to describe the questions, the answers to which may be important for the patient. The active participation of the patient in the treatment process, his awareness allows the doctor to provide the maximum effect. nine0003
Undoubtedly, the coverage of such issues at the reception is, first of all, the doctor's task. But we know from our own experience that effective feedback between the doctor and the patient allows you to concentrate on issues that are extremely important for both parties, and significantly reduces the risk of the “broken phone” effect.
- Before you visit your doctor, list the questions you would like answered. It is advisable to write down these questions on paper and take it with you to the consultation so as not to forget anything. nine0030
- At the consultation, be careful, do not hesitate to ask the doctor clarifying questions. Knowing the situation will help you and your doctor deal with the problem as effectively as possible.
- Monitor the receipt of all appointments and recommendations in writing. At the same time, make sure that everything is clear to you, and you can read everything. Make additional explanatory notes for yourself in the document.
- Ask your doctor how you can ask questions if they come up later in the examination or treatment. The ideal option is email correspondence or, when solving more complex issues, a second consultation. Explanations over the phone often lead to ineffective communication - something is lost, forgotten. In this case, it is often impossible to establish where the “failure” occurred. nine0030
We have tried to highlight the most important questions that apply to most medical situations.