5 questions to ask before choosing a therapist

In the past month I probably received at least ten requests from friends and clients asking for referrals for great therapists.


“Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.” Carl Jung

Whenever these calls come in, I try and get my friends to slow down, step back and approach this process with mindfulness and intention. Take your time to get this right; you’re going to be sharing your innermost thoughts and feelings with this person. I’m a big fan of psychotherapy as one of many healing modalities. I wouldn’t be where I am today without the great Health Realization,  Imago and Voice Dialogue therapy and coaching I received in my 20’s and 30’s. But not all psychotherapists are equal; take the time to carefully vet and choose a therapist who can both honor who you are, see your innate goodness and challenge you in a way that is right for you.

Here are the questions I asked my friends as they begin looking at various options for supporting their mental/emotional health:

• Do they need to be on your insurance plan or are you open to paying out of pocket (highly recommended to be open here—many amazing folks no longer are on insurance plans)?
• Why are you seeing a therapist and what do you hope to accomplish? Another close follow-up to this is: do I need a therapist or a coach? This is a tough one as the lines have become very blurred. Best to ask the therapist (or coach) you’re interviewing to describe how they view the differences. For most, this will provide the clarity you need to make a decision.
• Is it important for you to see someone who honors/incorporates your religious or spiritual beliefs or not really?
• Is it important to see someone who integrates somatic techniques or tools (somatic means “body based’) such as breathwork, body-sensing, yoga/talk, etc. ? I love somatic-based work as it’s said “the issues are in the tissues.” Make sure you take time to examine the therapist’s background/training and areas of specialty here.
• See if you can schedule a short call with the potential therapist before you set an appointment. I like to ask, “What is your philosophy on/approach to therapy?” “Who or what influences your work (other teachers, models, methods, books, etc. )?” And lastly, “What do think is the purpose of therapy?” I think this is key as I believe therapy is not about “fixing” someone-but helping them come into greater awareness and ultimately the highest expression of themselves.

When looking for referrals, ask friends you trust who have similar values for recommendations. Seek out mental health professionals that have direct/specific experience in the area you want to focus on. Don’t be afraid to schedule an initial session or two and then “sit with” the experience for a while to reflect on whether it’s a fit (trust your intuition—how did you feel when you left the appointment?). Don’t be afraid to be direct and share what works/doesn’t work for you with your therapist. Ask them for their vision or plan for working together (duration, etc.). And lastly, be gentle with yourself and give yourself kudos for taking this courageous step. It’s easier to keep doing what you’re doing rather than stepping out and exploring all parts of yourself.

I feel honored that so many mental health professionals come to my retreats and are part of our RTA-Certified Facilitator Community. There are so many amazing therapists out there doing such powerful work. This can be one of most transformative experiences of your life. Dedicating time, energy and resources to your mental/emotional/spiritual health—whether it’s attending a one-day retreat or receiving ongoing support– should be as important as taking in clean air and water. If our outer world is a reflection of our inner world, doesn’t it make sense to take time to invest in the care and feeding of our hearts?

I’D LOVE TO SUPPORT YOUR WELL-BEING. Here are three upcoming opportunities to work with me:


Join us here at McKinney Roughs on May 11th for our New Way of Being: Women’s Self-Renewal Retreat from 9:30-4:00 Mother’s Day weekend.


  • Once a year I offer a Texas one-day self-renewal retreat on Mother’s Day weekend (but they sell out quickly!). We just announced our May 11 New Way of Being: Women’s Self-Renewal Retreat (check out our bring-a-friend special which includes a Kendra Scott jewelry gift and reserve your spot today). Want to win this retreat plus $1500 in self-care prizes? Preview our Mother’s Day Retreat Giveaway Package; details on how to enter coming soon!
  • Reach out to me to have me plan/facilitate a custom 1/2 day or full day life balance retreat for your company, team or organization on life balance, resiliency or self-renewal. Learn more and email me at workshops at reneetrudeau dot com.
  • Craving authentic community and want to find (or create) your tribe? Learn more about our global sisterhood of RTA-Certified Facilitators  and empower/support women in your community!  More here on how to become a RTA-Certified Facilitator  ($100 off through 4/30; includes private coaching with me) and join our inner circle.

Subscribe here to Live Inside Out, a weekly blog written by mindfulness coach/author/speaker and self-care evangelist Renée Peterson Trudeau. Passionate about helping men and women experience balance through the art/science of self-care, her work has appeared in The New York Times, Good Housekeeping, US News & World Report, Spirituality & Health and more. Thousands of women in ten countries are becoming RTA-Certified Facilitators and leading/joining self-renewal groups based on her award-winning self-care curriculum.  She is the author of three books on life balance including the award-winning The Mother’s Guide to Self-Renewal. She lives in Austin, Texas, with her husband and 16-year-old son. More on her background here.



  1. Great questions, Renee! Finding a good fit is so important. As a mental health professional, I just want to thank you for the opportunity to feed and care for my own heart through your retreat, which was just the nourishment I need as I continue to do the work that I do. From the bottom of my heart, Thank you!