Hey, you mentioned wanting to figure out how to find a good therapist in your last post. I recently tackled that problem, and I’m pretty satisfied with the results I got - I think my method can be improved on, but it’s at least a starting point.
What I did was make a questionnaire in google docs and email it to a bunch of local therapists - anyone who looked like they might work out at all. It included a bunch of different types of questions, everything from basic information about where the therapist’s office is to questions about their ethics and personality.
The first test was whether they filled out the form at all, and a lot of them didn’t. That’s fine - anybody who isn’t willing to put up with being asked to do something a little out of the ordinary is probably not going to be a good match for me anyway.
For the actual questions, here’s a breakdown of what I asked:
- Basic biographical information - name, office location, whether they were taking new clients
- Familiarity with various things that are relevant to me - ADD and autism, PTSD, disability rights, that sort of thing. I also asked how they’d learned about autism. For these, I wasn’t necessarily looking for a high level of familiarity, especially for autism - someone who thought they knew a lot but had never spoken to an autistic adult would have been disqualified, for example - but these questions would have made a good tiebreaker if I’d had more than one good candidate.
- Physical and social accessibility stuff:
- Is their office physically accessible? Are there stairs to get to it? Are they comfortable with the idea of working with a disabled person?
- Are they comfortable communicating via text? Is there wifi I can use to IM with them?
- Are they comfortable working with someone who’s nonbinary? very smart? follows a weird religion? distrusts authority?
- How do they rate themselves on the parts of the Big 5 Agreeableness trait? (Trust, straightforwardness, altruism, compliance, modesty, tender-mindedness - wikipedia can explain more about this)
- In particular I was looking for high trust and straightforwardness and low compliance - the low compliance is particularly important, since it suggests that they’ll actually listen to me rather than just sticking to what they’ve been taught about the right way to do therapy.
- Treatment approach
- How familiar are they with the issue I’d be seeing them for? How often do they work with people on that issue? How confident are they that they can help me with it?
- What treatment method or methods do they use? How firm are they about sticking to their preferred method if it doesn’t seem to be working or if I don’t like it?
- How long would they expect it to take for me to see results?
- Ethics questions - honestly I’m pretty sure you can do better than I did, on these, but I started by defining ethics as “Ethics is about doing things safely, particularly without risking harm to others. What do you believe about ethics?”, and here’s what I asked - the possible answers were ‘strongly agree, agree, neutral, disagree, strongly disagree’.
- It is easy to make ethical mistakes.
- Ethical mistakes can be made unintentionally.
- Everyone makes ethical mistakes sometimes.
- It is important to be honest with others about my ethics and ethical beliefs. (This one was not really a question - the idea was to prompt the therapist to answer the next few questions honestly.)
- Committing to following a code of ethics written by an expert is a reliable way to avoid ethical mistakes.
- Keeping my behavior the same across different contexts helps me avoid ethical mistakes.
- It is important to understand others’ ideas of harm so that I can treat them ethically.
- Cognitive disability, youth, and inexperience can be good reasons to discount claims of harm.
Also for each section I included a fill-in box for the therapist to write in anything else they thought I should know about their answers to that section, but nobody actually used them for anything interesting.
And, to give you an idea of responses - I sent this form to somewhere between 15 and 20 therapists. I heard back from 10, of which 5 weren’t accepting clients, 2 didn’t do IM, 1 didn’t work with people with PTSD, 1 emailed back with a suggestion that I work with a group of therapists in something that sounded like an outpatient institutional setting (*alarmed flailing*) … but the last one seems to be a really good fit, and it didn’t take a whole lot of work or risk to find her out of the original bunch I sent the form to, so I’m pretty happy.
Has this worked (or not worked) for any of y’all? Has anything else?