Suggested questions to ask your prospective therapist:

If someone wants help because of, for example, anxiety or depression, what kinds of reasons would you look for as possible causes?

A good therapist will consider all possible sources of your problems. Childhood conflicts are the most obvious, but the therapist should also include possible biochemical disorders, personal values and external situations of work and love. A therapist who ignores or dismisses any of these is to be avoided.

What are your own personal values and attitudes--about work, love, money and life in general?

This not only helps you learn something about the therapist as a person, but also gives you some information to mull over regarding how his or her own outlook and values will affect the treatment. Does the therapist seem to enjoy his or her work, or sound bored or depressed? Be wary of therapists who sound extreme, either overly idealistic or overly self-centered. Does he or she seem interested in life in general, or strike you as a joyless, narrowly focused technician?

What is your experience with or understanding of large organizations and bureaucracies and how they may affect people's problems?

The therapist should show some recognition of the realities of careers in big organizations, in which most of us work. Be wary if the therapist indicates that such understanding is irrelevant to your problems or the treatment.

Ask Yourself:

Do I feel sufficiently challenged by this therapist to look at myself, without feeling attacked or treated with disrespect?

Do I think he or she is capable of understanding me?

Do I think that he or she is sincerely interested in helping me, or views me as just a diagnostic category? Or as a big dollar sign?

Being human, we all resist facing and exploring unpleasant truths. You might rationalize your resistance as simply your response to a "bad" therapist. Try to be open, use your intuition and judgment and don't hesitate to discuss these questions--and your own conclusions about them--with the therapist.