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Top Therapy Questions Therapists Ask to Engage Clients During Sessions

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Feeling stuck or confused can often lead us to therapy, looking for answers and guidance.  Every therapist holds a toolbox of questions specifically crafted to unlock the doors of self-awareness and healing.

This post will uncover key inquiries made by therapists that aim to deepen your understanding of yourself and enhance your therapeutic journey. Discover how the right question at the right time can be the key to unlocking your personal growth.

Key Takeaways

  • Therapists ask questions to unlock self-awareness and promote healing.
  • They tailor questions to understand clients’ emotions, perspectives, and goals.
  • Questions help identify strengths and resources for overcoming challenges.
  • Asking about past coping strategies aids in building resilience.
  • Therapists adapt their questioning techniques based on the client’s age.

Classic Therapy Questions Therapists Often Ask

Therapy questions are designed to gain insight into their clients’ perspectives, emotions, and goals. Understanding these aspects can help therapists tailor their approach to best support their clients.

What is the problem from your point of view?

Understanding your own perspective on the issue is a crucial step in therapy. It can be hard to define what’s bothering you at first. A mental health professional will encourage you to speak freely about your feelings and thoughts.

This helps us uncover the root of the problem together. Sharing your view also gives me valuable insight into how best to support you throughout our sessions.

Exploring this question allows you to express what’s on your mind without judgment or pressure. Knowing where you stand helps tailor the therapeutic process uniquely for you. Your honesty sets the stage for meaningful change and personal growth as we proceed with treatment.

How does this problem typically make you feel?

After sharing their perspective on the issue, clients often dive into the emotional side. This step is about getting to the heart of their feelings. It’s a chance for them to voice sadness, anger, worry, or even confusion linked with their problems.

Therapists listen closely here because it sheds light on how deep and in what ways the problem troubles clients.

Exploring emotions helps clients understand themselves better. They start recognising patterns in how they react and cope with difficulties. It also gives therapists clues on which strategies might help most.

Talking about feelings isn’t always easy, but it’s important for healing and growth during therapy sessions.

What makes the problem better?

Understanding what eases a client’s problem is vital for therapy. Therapists ask about improvements to discover helpful coping strategies. These insights can lead to better support and treatment plans tailored to each person.

Knowing the positive influences on an individual’s issues gives therapists clues about their resilience and resources. It points out what works in reducing stress or anxietynurturing hope for progress during sessions.

Overall, how would you describe your mood?

This question invites you to share your feelings and emotions. It helps therapists see how you are doing emotionally. Your answer gives clues about your mental health. You might notice patterns in your mood by talking about it.

Sharing your mood can show if therapy is helping. It’s a chance for you to look at your own feelings.

Describing your mood can be easy or hard. Some days you feel happy, other days sad or angry, and that’s okay! Your therapist listens and understands better with this information. This talk can lead to more questions about why you feel this way.

Your answers guide the rest of the therapy session.

How connected do you feel to the people around you?

Feeling connected to others shapes our emotional world. For many, strong ties with family and friends bring happiness and safety. Therapists explore this sense of connection to uncover deeper social needs and relationship patterns.

They want to know if you feel close or distant from those around you.

Your answer sheds light on the support system you have—or lack thereof. It pinpoints feelings of loneliness or companionship that might affect your mental health. Counselors dive into these responses, aiming for improved well-being by strengthening your bonds with the community.

What positive changes do you want to make in your life?

As you reflect on your connections with others, it’s also time to focus on yourself. Think about the positive changes you want in your life. This is your chance to dream and plan. Therapists often use this moment to light a spark within you.

They help clients think big and set targets for their own happiness.

Visualise the areas where you can grow and develop. Picture the steps that will take you there. Whether it means forming new habits or breaking old ones, identify what matters most to you now.

A therapist’s role is to guide this journey of self-improvement, making sure each goal is clear and reachable.

Therapy Questions for Depression and Anxiety

What are the issues or problems that brought you to therapy and how have you coped with similar issues in the past? Have you tried any strategies to manage your symptoms, and what specific goals do you have for therapy? How can we work together to achieve those goals and envision a life without your current difficulties?

What are the issues or problems that brought you to therapy?

You might feel overwhelmed or anxious and need help dealing with these emotions. A therapist will ask about the issues causing distress in your life. They want to know what specific events or thoughts led you to seek therapy.

This helps them understand how to best support you.

Exploring your main concerns, therapists can create a plan tailored for you. They consider whether family dynamics, stress from life challenges, or adjusting to new situations impact your mental health.

Knowing your struggles is key to effective treatment and positive change.

What’s your family history with mental health?

Understanding a client’s family history with mental health is crucial as it helps therapists tailor their approach and address any underlying issues. An individual’s decision to seek therapy for anxiety or depression can be influenced by their family’s mental health history, providing valuable insight into potential risk factors for certain conditions.

This knowledge equips therapists to deliver more effective treatment by considering the broader context of an individual’s mental well-being and identifying any hereditary predispositions or environmental factors that may contribute to their current challenges.

How have you coped with similar issues in the past?

When dealing with similar issues in the past, clients often find strength in sharing their experiences and learning from their coping strategies. Therapists aim to explore these previous coping mechanisms to understand what has worked for the client and how they can build on those strengths.

This process fosters a sense of resilience and empowers clients to recognise their ability to overcome challenges.

Therapists frequently enquire about specific instances where clients have successfully managed similar issues, shedding light on effective strategies that could be incorporated into current therapy sessions.

By focusing on past triumphs, therapists help clients acknowledge their personal growth and develop a more positive outlook towards managing present difficulties while building resilience for future obstacles.

Have you tried any strategies to manage your symptoms?

Strategies to manage symptoms can be helpful in therapy. Therapists often enquire about the techniques you’ve used to cope with your symptoms. Exploring these strategies together can enhance therapy sessions and provide valuable insights into what has worked for you in the past.

Therapists need to understand how you’ve managed your symptoms as it aids in developing personalised treatment plans tailored to your specific needs.

Moving forward, let’s delve into therapy questions designed for depression and anxiety, which play a crucial role in assisting therapists in understanding the challenges clients face.

How do you envision your life without your current difficulties?

Considering life without your current difficulties can be a powerful motivator for change. Visualising a future free from the burden of depression or anxiety can help you set specific and achievable goals for therapy.

Envisioning this brighter future enables you to recognise that positive change is possible, empowering you to take steps towards overcoming your current challenges. Recognising your inner strength in envisioning life without these difficulties can be the first step towards a healthier and happier existence.

Remember, therapists use this technique to encourage clients to believe in their potential for growth and transformation, ultimately leading them on the path towards healing.

What are your specific goals for therapy?

Identifying the root causes of symptoms and developing coping strategies are vital objectives for therapy. These specific goals assist in tailoring treatment to individual needs while tracking progress and staying motivated throughout the process.

Discussing specific therapy goals with a therapist establishes a clear direction for sessions, fostering effective collaboration towards desired outcomes.

Defining these clear goals empowers clients to take an active role in their treatment, ensuring that each session brings them closer to their mental health aspirations. Setting these targets enables therapists to design interventions that address the client’s unique needs, promoting personal growth and overall well-being.

By working together on these specific aims, both clients and therapists can develop a roadmap towards improved mental health.

How can we work together to achieve those goals?

Collaboration in therapy is crucial for achieving the set goals. By ensuring an open and honest dialogue, we can work together to make meaningful progress towards improving mental health.

Engaging in active communication and setting achievable targets will guide our joint efforts, leading to a more successful therapy experience. It’s important to address the question of how to work together as it fosters a supportive environment, empowering clients and enhancing motivation on their journey towards recovery.

Therapists asking questions that promote open communication and understanding create an atmosphere of trust and collaboration, ultimately leading to positive changes in mental well-being.

Questions for Solution-Focused Therapy

What do you hope to achieve from therapy? How have you managed similar challenges in the past? These are just some of the questions that can guide solution-focused therapy towards positive outcomes.

What do you hope to achieve from therapy?

Striving for positive change, therapy aims to uncover solutions and harness strengths. Seeking to achieve a goal-focused outcome, solution-focused brief therapy emphasises the client’s resources and capacity for transformation.

With a focus on constructive change, it primes clients to perceive difference and highlights their inherent capabilities. Guided by these principles, therapists utilise open-ended questions to encourage self-exploration and reflection, fostering an environment of hopefulness and expectancy of positive change.

In solution-focused therapy where the emphasis is on building solutions rather than discussing challenges or problems, therapists seek to identify what clients want to achieve through therapy.

What would your life look like if your problems were solved?

Imagine a life free from the burdens and struggles that hold you back. Picture yourself feeling light, confident, and capable of overcoming any challenge. Visualise vibrant relationships, a balanced mood, and an unwavering sense of connection to those around you.

Envision a version of yourself brimming with strength and resilience, equipped with the power to steer your life towards positive change. In this reality, solutions triumph over barriers as you harness your inner resources to tackle obstacles head-on.

You navigate through each day guided by purpose, empowered by your abilities, and unruffled by the weight of past difficulties.

How have you managed similar challenges in the past?

When facing similar challenges in the past, focus on the strategies that worked well for you and consider how those approaches could be applied to your current situation. Reflect on the strengths and coping mechanisms you utilised previously to tackle comparable difficulties, enabling a proactive approach towards addressing present concerns.

By drawing from previous experiences, it becomes feasible to recognise effective patterns and devise practical solutions based on proven methods.

In overcoming similar challenges previously, relying on support networks or seeking professional guidance can significantly impact your ability to navigate through adversity. Embracing these experiences fosters resilience and equips you with valuable insights that can inform your decision-making process moving forward.

What strengths do you have that can help in overcoming your difficulties?

Identifying your strengths is crucial in overcoming difficulties. In SFBT, focusing on your inherent abilities like problem-solving skills and resilience can help you navigate challenges effectively.

By recognising your strengths, you can strategise ways to apply them to the specific issues you’re facing, paving the way for positive changes in your life. Remember that SFBT believes in harnessing these internal resources to build solutions rather than dwelling solely on problems.

Harnessing your inner strength constitutes a pivotal aspect of Solution-Focused Brief Therapy (SFBT), as it propels you towards constructing practical solutions to surmount obstacles.

Emphasising clients’ innate capabilities is fundamental in this therapy approach, enabling individuals to leverage their competencies and fortitude when dealing with adversities such as depression or anxiety.

What would be a small step towards achieving your desired outcome?

Building on recognising your strengths, taking a small step towards achieving your desired outcome could involve setting specific and achievable short-term goals. These smaller milestones can help you track progress and maintain motivation as you work towards your larger objectives.

By breaking down the ultimate goal into manageable steps, it becomes more attainable, allowing for a sense of achievement along the way.

Considering Solution-Focused Brief Therapy’s emphasis on celebrating each positive change, even the tiniest step forward can serve as a building block for further progress. In this light, focusing on identifying one concrete action to engage in or change to implement can be an impactful initial stride towards realising your desired outcome.

How can we build on your successes?

Identify the positive changes you’ve experienced and how they’ve made an impact. What strengths have you utilised to navigate through challenges? Utilise solution-focused techniques to empower yourself in resolving future obstacles.

Use your abilities and past successes as a foundation for achieving further progress.

Every success serves as a stepping stone towards greater self-fulfilment, so using these achievements will propel us towards our next focus – Customising Therapy Questions Based on Age and Developmental Stage.

What resources do you have that can support you in reaching your goals?

Identify the strengths, skills, and support systems you can tap into to achieve your desired outcomes. You possess intrinsic capabilities that can aid in overcoming challenges and carving a path towards positive change.

The resources at your disposal will play a pivotal role in propelling you toward your therapy goals.

The importance of recognising and utilising these resources cannot be overstated. Your innate strengths form the foundation for progress in therapy. Furthermore, acknowledging these assets empowers you to actively engage with the therapeutic process and reinforces your ability to effect positive changes in your life.

Leveraging these resources effectively fosters resilience and fortitude as you navigate through the journey of self-improvement, guiding you towards reclaiming agency over your well-being – ultimately leading to a more fulfilling life experience.

Woman visiting psychologist office. Patient sitting in armchair and talking to psychiatrist. Vector illustration for therapy session, psychotherapy counseling concept

Therapy Questions to Ask Yourself

Reflecting on your thoughts, feelings, and experiences through self-questioning can provide meaningful insights into your mental health and well-being. Here are some examples of therapeutic self-reflection questions:

Understanding Yourself

  • What are my core values and beliefs? Are my actions aligned with them?
  • What thoughts or emotions am I avoiding? Why?
  • When do I feel most myself? When do I feel least myself?

Personal Growth

  • What parts of myself would I like to further develop?
  • What habits or behaviours would I like to change? What resources or support do I need?
  • If I could fast forward 5 years, what would I like my life to look like? What steps can I take now towards that vision?


  • Is there anyone I need to forgive?
  • Who is supportive of my growth? Do I need to communicate better with someone?
  • Am I devoting enough time to the important relationships in my life?


  • What activities nourish me emotionally and spiritually? Am I making enough time for them?
  • Do I speak to myself with kindness and compassion? If not, what self-talk would be more supportive?

Regularly reflecting on questions like these can provide clarity, help you set meaningful goals, and lead to insights that improve your mental health and quality of life. Consider keeping a journal to explore your answers more fully.

Customising Therapy Questions Based on Age and Developmental Stage

Tailoring therapy questions to the specific age and developmental stage of each client can greatly enhance the effectiveness of therapy sessions. To learn more about how this approach can benefit clients of all ages, read on for valuable insights and strategies.

Therapeutic questions for children and adolescents

Therapeutic questions for children and adolescents are carefully designed to be age-appropriate and engage their developmental stage.

  • What activities make you feel happiest or most comfortable?
  • Can you share a time when you felt proud of something you achieved?
  • How do you like to express your feelings, for example, through talking, drawing, or physical activities?
  • Are there any worries or concerns that are on your mind lately?
  • What does a good day look like to you, and what makes it good?

Therapeutic questions for adults

As we transition to an adult context, it’s essential to understand the nuances and specificities required in addressing their therapeutic needs. Here are targeted questions tailored for adults seeking therapy:

  1. What significant life events have had a lasting impact on your mental well-being?
  2. How do you perceive your current relationships with others, and in what ways do they contribute to your emotional state?
  3. Can you identify any recurring patterns of behaviour or thought that may be hindering your personal growth and contentment?
  4. In what ways do you currently practice self-care, and how effective do you find these strategies in managing stress and promoting mental wellness?
  5. What are the main stressors in your life, and how do they affect your emotional stability and overall quality of life?
  6. How would you describe your level of motivation and enthusiasm towards effecting positive change in your life?

Therapeutic questions for older adults

Transitioning from addressing therapeutic questions for adults, the following are tailored queries suitable for older adults seeking therapy:

  1. What events or experiences have significantly impacted your life?
  2. How do you perceive your mental and emotional well-being compared to earlier stages in life?
  3. Can you describe any specific worries or anxieties that trouble you regularly?
  4. In what ways have changes in physical health affected your overall mood and outlook on life?
  5. What support systems or coping mechanisms have been valuable to you in managing life’s challenges?

Building Rapport and Enhancing Therapy through Questions

Utilising open-ended questions can encourage self-exploration and deepen the client’s understanding of their thoughts and emotions. Therapists also use reflective questions to help clients gain insight and actively encourage clients to ask questions, fostering an engaging therapy process.

Using open-ended questions to encourage self-exploration

Open-ended questions offer a powerful tool for therapists by promoting personal reflection and communication. These questions allow clients to express their thoughts and feelings in depth, leading to meaningful exploration of their experiences.

Therapists can use open-ended questions to gain a deeper understanding of their clients’ perspectives, fostering an environment where individuals feel encouraged to share openly.

By asking open-ended questions, therapists provide the space for clients to delve into their emotions and thought processes without constraints. This technique helps uncover underlying issues and develop insights that may not arise from closed or directive questioning styles.

Asking follow-up questions to deepen understanding and reflection

After using open-ended questions to encourage self-exploration, therapists can deepen understanding and reflection by asking follow-up questions. This technique allows clients to delve further into their thoughts and emotions, leading to a richer therapeutic experience.

Follow-up questions also demonstrate the therapist’s active engagement in the client’s narrative, fostering a deeper sense of rapport and trust.

By asking relevant follow-up questions based on the client’s responses, therapists can uncover underlying issues, gain valuable insights, and guide clients towards meaningful self-discovery.

Using reflective questions to help clients gain insight

To deepen understanding and reflection, therapists employ reflective questions to help clients gain insight. Reflective listening aids in creating a supportive atmosphere for clients to explore their concerns and motivations for change.

Utilising open-ended questions encourages self-reflection by guiding clients to contemplate their emotions and experiences. Carefully chosen reflective questions not only gather essential information but also soothe clients during therapy sessions.

Encouraging clients to ask questions and engage in the therapy process

In transitioning from using reflective questions to helping clients gain insight, therapists must encourage clients to ask questions and actively engage in the therapy process. Open questions foster ample opportunities for clients to explore their thoughts and emotions, while also enabling them to grasp a deeper understanding of themselves.

This engagement paves the way for constructive dialogue between the therapist and client, nurturing a strong therapeutic relationship built on trust and mutual respect. Encouraging an open exchange of questions not only enhances client empowerment but also fosters a collaborative approach towards achieving therapeutic goals.

Therapists can facilitate meaningful discussion by utilising open-ended queries that prompt introspection, inviting clients to delve into their experiences without limitations posed by closed responses.

Active participation through asking probing inquiries can empower individuals as they navigate their journey within therapy, further enriching the counselling experience with valuable insights and self-discovery.

20 most frequently asked questions in psychotherapy

  • What are the issues or problems that brought you to therapy?
  • What’s your family history?
  • Have you attempted harming yourself?
  • How is your relationship with others around you?
  • What are you unclear about in your life, that if you figured it out, would make the biggest difference?
  • What opportunities do you have right now?
  • How would you act if you were 10 times bolder?
  • What does your ideal life look like in 2, 5, or 10 years?
  • How do you want to be remembered by those you love when you’re gone?
  • What changes do you need to make to have the life you want?
  • What does “success” mean to you?
  • What’s important to you about accomplishing this?
  • What do you want?
  • What are you saying “yes” to in your life right now?
  • What do you like about yourself (interests, life experiences, personality traits, etc.)?
  • What energizes you?
  • What specifically are you worried about/afraid of here?
  • If you were happier, how would people know?
  • How could you view that differently? What’s another perspective?
  • What has worked in the past to get you unstuck here?


In conclusion, therapists use a variety of targeted questions to deepen understanding and encourage self-reflection in therapy sessions. These questions are tailored to each client’s needs and can help build rapport while promoting positive outcomes.

By asking the right questions, therapists create a safe space for clients to explore their thoughts and emotions, ultimately enhancing the therapeutic process. Through active listening and thoughtful inquiry, therapists empower clients to navigate their challenges and work towards achieving their goals.


What questions might a therapist ask in the first therapy session?

In an intake session, a therapist may ask common intake questions to learn more about you and your reasons for seeking help. They could include inquiries about what brings you to therapy, your family history, any past treatment, and how you’ve been feeling.

Why do therapists use different types of questions?

Therapists use various types of questions – like open-ended or closed ones – based on the form of therapy they’re practising. This helps them understand your situation better and tailor the therapy sessions to suit your needs.

Can you give me some examples of questions used in cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)?

Yes! In CBT sessions, therapists frequently ask clients about their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors related to certain situations. Their aims are designed to uncover patterns that may affect well-being.

How do group therapy sessions work with asking questions?

During group therapy sessions, facilitators might pose group-wide or individual-specific inquiries that encourage participants to share experiences and support each other – this helps everyone feel involved.

In couples or family therapy, what type of questions should one expect?

Couples or family therapists often focus on communication dynamics; hence they typically raise matters such as how members interact during conflicts or express affection towards one another.

Are there specific techniques therapists use when asking clients questions?

Therapists have many techniques for questioning that can prompt deeper self-reflection — from Gestalt exercises encouraging present awarenesses through guided exploration down into layers below standard responses.

What are some common therapy questions therapists use to engage clients during sessions?

Common therapy questions include open-ended questions to encourage clients to share their thoughts and feelings, closed questions for specific information, and reflective questions to explore deeper emotions.

How can therapists use questions to ask clients effectively during therapy sessions?

Therapists can use a combination of open-ended questions to prompt reflection and discussion, closed questions to gather specific details, and probing questions to delve deeper into underlying issues.

What is the importance of therapy intake questions in the counselling process?

Therapy intake questions are crucial for therapists to gather relevant information about clients’ backgrounds, current concerns, and treatment goals. They help in creating personalized therapy plans and building a strong therapist-client relationship.

Why do therapists often use gestalt therapy questions in their sessions?

Gestalt therapy questions are used to enhance self-awareness, explore the present moment, and promote personal growth. These questions help clients focus on their thoughts, emotions, and behaviours in the here and now.

What are some examples of family therapy questions that therapists may ask during sessions?

Family therapy questions may include inquiries about family dynamics, communication patterns, conflict resolution strategies, and individual perspectives within the family unit. These questions aim to improve relationships and address underlying issues.

How can therapists effectively assess clients’ progress through therapy assessment questions?

Therapy assessment questions help therapists track clients’ progress, evaluate the effectiveness of interventions, and make adjustments to treatment plans as needed. These questions also allow clients to reflect on their growth and development during therapy.

Top Therapy Questions Therapists Ask to Engage Clients During Sessions
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