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As a mental health consumer, you have the right to services that are compassionate, ethical, and effective. Our job is to help both professionals and consumers become more knowledgeable; your job is to make an informed decision when choosing a professional. Therefore, we recommend you read our Principles and Perspectives of Practice before seeking therapy. You may wish to ask a potential therapist for his or her reactions to these principles and perspectives.
Specifically, when voluntarily contacting a mental health professional for therapy, we recommend that you ask him or her the questions below. We suggest that you make a written record of the professional’s responses to these questions.
Questions to ask a potential therapist
1. What kind of education and credentials (certifications, licenses, and degrees) do you have?
2. What kind of experience do you have working with minor-attracted people?
3. Who, if anyone, will find out about my sexual feelings (e.g., professional colleagues, administrators, clinic staff, my insurance company, my employer, your friends or spouse)? What diagnosis will be given to my insurance company?
Note: Quite often a team of professionals in which a therapist works will be aware of clients’ situations; in this case, you can expect that the team will know about your sexual feelings, but they should abide by the same principles of confidentiality as your therapist. If your insurance company will cover any part of your therapist’s fees, it will be informed of your diagnosis only. If you receive therapy through an employee assistance program, your employee should be given no information other than your record of attendance at therapy sessions.
4. What situations would you have to report to authorities under mandatory reporting laws? What would constitute sufficient suspicion of illegal sexual behavior that you would have to report?
5. Would you say that minor-attracted people have any particular needs or characteristics as a group? If so, what would you say they are?
6. Have you had experiences in your life that might affect your interest or ability to work with minor-attracted people?
7. Do you have any values or strongly held attitudes that might affect how you work with minor-attracted people?
8. What conditions, if any, would you require of me in order to receive therapy?
9. What would be your guiding assumptions, principles, or philosophy in working with me?
10. What would be the purposes of therapy? Would you try to cure me of my sexual feelings?
11. What would be your approach in therapy?
Note: A description of different approaches can be found at Psychology Today.
12. Would you use polygraphs, plethysmographs, or arousal reconditioning?
13. What would be the therapeutic plan? Will I participate in developing it? Can I receive it in writing?
More information on what to look for when selecting a therapist can be found at the following sites:
How to Choose a Competent Counselor - Metanoia
How to Choose a Psychotherapist - American Psychological Association
Choosing the Right Mental Health Therapist, National Mental Health Information Center (U.S. DHHS)
Updated July 18, 2008