Most of us were raised in a culture where asking for help was not easy and even downright terrifying!
It takes a leap of faith to make that initial contact with a therapist and hope this person may be able to help mitigate the discomfort or pain we present with. People are told to "listen to their gut" or "trust their instincts" in finding a therapist to work with. A problem with that is, as a potential client coming in for help, the chances are the degree of pain you are in will most certainly be stronger than your ability to "tune into your instincts or listen to your gut".
The following is an outline of questions and observations for you to make and ask, most especially for clients who are new to the process:
1) Did the therapist return your call or email in a timely manner?
2) Were they able to schedule an appointment to meet with you within a reasonable timeframe?
3) Were they willing to spend a brief time on the phone, willing to answer questions you may have?
4) Lastly, does their manner/voice sound pleasant and/or warm?
1) Is the therapist's office clean, comfortable, and inviting?
2) If your appointment is scheduled for 10:00, does he or she greet you at 10:00?
3) Is he or she attentive, engaging and engaged with you throughout the session? Although therapists need to take notes, does he or she make good eye contact with you?
4) Do you feel heard? Does the therapist appear open and non-judgmental? Do you feel spoken to with respect and dignity?
5) Does the therapist talk too much or too little? We all respond to peoples' styles differently, but the focus should remain on the client!
6) Does he or she review what you have shared with them and given you a sense of their approach and how they hope to help you?
7) Lastly, do you find yourself feeling a bit less frightened or confused, the same, or worse at the end of the session?
The therapeutic relationship is just that, a relationship. Although you are seeking help from an "expert", your working relationship needs to feel like a collaborative partnership.