Verify Your Therapist

Anyone seeking counseling, psychotherapy or life coaching is entitled to know whether the practitioner can really help.

Have you ever put your trust in a helping professional who claimed expertise … only to discover that (s)he was a fraud? This can happen in almost any field: health, business, religion, politics, sports, etc. To be honest, it is probably easier for a mental / behavioral health practitioner to get away with fraud, than it would be for a physician, for example.

Licensed professionals who practice counseling / psychotherapy would be wise follow the principle that physicians do: “First, do no harm.” However, sadly, many of my clients have reported that their former therapists did not follow that principle. They were careless and / or incompetent. This should never happen. And yet, even though a licensed mental health professional must have gone  through thorough education and training, leading to an advanced college degree, including a course in Ethics, and then pass a long licensure exam, some of these practitioners violate professional guidelines.

The violations can show up in many scenarios. The practitioner may violate privacy and confidentiality, make inappropriate comments, cancel sessions frequently, to name a few.

Among the most damaging of these is falsely claiming to be good at a particular kind of therapy. They might read a book about meditation, and then consider that they can coach the client to meditate. They may take one class in trauma therapy and believe they are qualified to help someone with Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Unfortunately, it is not hard to misrepresent one’s credentials in this field.

Fortunately, you need not be victimized by this. You have every right to question your mental health professional about how he or she plans to help you. Regardless of the nature or the intensity of your problem, do not take for granted that the therapist, coach or counselor is qualified to address that problem. When you talk on the phone at your first contact, and later when you see the professional’s license and diploma hanging on the wall, feel free to ask what they studied and how long they’ve been practicing. Any qualified therapist should be glad to provide their credentials and their experience.

Obtain information about the therapist before you make that first call. Google reviews are fairly reliable. When you make the call, ask some questions based on your problem. Here are some questions you might pose:

How long have you been a therapist? Do you have a specialty? How long would this go on, and how often would we meet? Are you experienced in  (an example of your problem)? How do you help people with that kind of problem? 

There is nothing wrong with asking for information when you consider meeting with a mental health professional. A good provider will do his or her best to satisfy your curiosity. In my practice I make a point of explaining what we will be doing, and why a given approach would be recommended, based on evidence, research, your unique needs and my professional experience. If you’d like to know more, please call (219) 309-3928.

For more thoughts click Conflict #12

Thanks for reading!