Five Questions You Should Ask When Choosing a Therapist

Drexel's Psychological Services Center serves clients of all ages from across the Philadelphia region.
Drexel’s Psychological Services Center serves clients of all ages from across the Philadelphia region.

Seeking care for behavioral health concerns, whether for yourself or your child, can itself cause some stress – especially if you don’t know what to look for in a therapist, or if your insurance coverage for mental health is limited or nonexistent.

Here to help is Jennifer Schwartz, PhD, director of Drexel’s new Psychological Services Center. The center is now open following the $10 million renovation of Stratton Hall (which also included modern office facilities for the Department of Psychology), and providing affordable and cutting-edge psychological treatments and assessments to clients from across Philadelphia and surrounding regions. The ribbon-cutting ceremonial opening is today.

I asked Schwartz to discuss some of the most important questions you should ask when choosing a therapist. Here are her suggestions for the top five questions you should ask (and how Drexel’s center can answer them):

1. How does your facility choose a treatment or assessment approach?

“You should look for facilities that only use evidence-based approaches,” Schwartz said. “Your provider should be up on the latest research and understand how that informs practice.” This is a particular strength of Drexel’s Psychological Services Center, where doctoral students in the highly competitive clinical psychology program, who are up on all the latest research, provide services under close supervision of expert Drexel faculty who are at the forefront of their field and the latest research.

2. When you’re in therapy, how will your provider know when treatment is working?

“At Drexel’s Psychological Services Center, we take repeated measurement of variables that are important to client,” Schwartz said. “Providers and clients collaboratively identify what variables would indicate progress, and then monitor those variables and adjust services as needed.” Because of their research training, clinical psychologists are in unique position to do that well, she noted.

3. What does the facility look like, and will I be comfortable going there for therapy?

It’s important to consider your comfort level with the place where you’ll receive therapy. Schwartz noted that Drexel’s Psychological Services Center was recently renovated and offers comfortable, modern furnishings. Drexel is also conveniently located near mass transit including the 30th Street train station served by regional rail lines.

4. How much will it cost?

The first meeting at Drexel’s Psychological Services Center is free, and subsequent appointments are charged on a sliding fee scale. “That’s important because many people have no or limited mental health benefits,” Schwartz said. “It’s often difficult to find cutting-edge treatments at price point they can afford.”

5. How long does treatment take?

Ideally, your therapist should be able to give some answer to that question (even if there is room for adjustment once you get started). “That’s a benefit of an evidence-based treatment,” Schwartz said, “that it tends to be more time limited based on its problem-focused approach. Most people complete therapy in 3-6 months.” She added that assessments at the Psychological Services Center are also timely, commensurate with most practices.

For news media inquiries about the Psychological Services Center, contact Rachel Ewing, or 215.895.2614.

To contact the Psychological Services Center and schedule a free intake appointment, call the center at 215.553.7128. Or for more information, visit the clinic website.