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The ultimate therapy check-in questions pdf

Therapy Check-In Questions are fundamental to sessions yet are often overlooked in the realm of therapy. That being said, I'm hesitant to say that there is an art to the check-in question, but these initial inquiries, simple as they might seem, are not just mere formalities.

They can be, in fact, the compass that can guide the therapeutic journey, the keys that unlock the therapeutic interaction, change, and connection. If you're looking for some ideas of what these look like, we've got 50 Therapy Check-In Questions PDF Download; the link is here.

You may already know that asking open-ended questions can help you gain a better understanding of your clients. In my experience as a therapist, I have observed that check-in questions can serve multiple purposes in various forms of therapy. These questions can help develop a strong therapeutic relationship and contribute to significant progress in treatment.

50 therapy check in questions

Functions Of Check-In Questions

Assuming you are already a mental health professional or in training to become one, you may already have an intuitive understanding of much of this. However, being able to categorize what you're doing and why can help you feel more confident and empowered.

Breaking the Ice: 

As our clients step into the therapeutic space, they leave behind the bustling and chaotic world outside, with its myriad demands and distractions. A check-in question is asked to ease this transition from outer noise to inner dialogue. It serves as a gentle invitation, similar to offering a warm, calming beverage to someone who just came in from a storm. This practice soothes and warms the client, clarifying that they are now in a safe space designed just for them.

Providing Structure: 

A sense of direction is crucial in therapy, just as it is in life. When clients arrive feeling lost or overwhelmed by their thoughts, a well-structured question can serve as a lighthouse, guiding and reassuring them. The idea is not to dictate the journey but to offer a starting point from which they can embark on their exploratory voyage.

Establishing a Baseline: 

The core of therapy lies in comprehension – comprehension not as a fixed concept but as a flexible, developing one. Where is our client at the present moment? What are the weights or pleasures they bring into the session today? Establishing this foundation is an ongoing dialogue in therapy, such as gauging their emotional state, which enables us to customize our approach to their current situation instead of their past.


The process of therapy is not just a set of disconnected appointments; it is a continuous narrative. Check-in questions help to ensure that the topics discussed in previous sessions are not forgotten but are instead integrated into the ongoing conversation. They serve as a reminder that each session is a chapter in a bigger story and part of a larger dialogue throughout the course of treatment.

therapy check-in questions pdf

Prompting Reflection and Disclosure. 

A mental health check-in involves answering certain questions that act as a catalyst for introspection and self-disclosure. These questions gently nudge individuals to look within themselves, explore their thoughts and feelings, and gain insights that can lead to breakthroughs. 

Rather than treating these meetings as a mere administrative task, we can reimagine them as opportunities to build a culture of engagement, respect, and shared purpose. By making this process a ritual, we can transform the therapeutic relationship into one of collaboration and insight. This can help foster a deeper understanding of oneself and provide a more effective approach to mental health care.

Before we go on, if you're looking for questions to ask in therapy sessions, you should check out my video on circular questioning - it's another powerful questioning tool that I swear by. 

See some circular questioning examples here, and our therapy check-in questions pdf is here

Types and Themes on our therapy Check-In Questions pdf

There are different types of check-in questions in therapy, each serving a unique purpose in understanding and assisting clients. They can be categorized into four key categories.

1. Scaling Questions

Scaling questions are a valuable tool used by therapists to measure a client's emotional or mental state and assess if they are experiencing any distressing emotions. They help gauge progress or reaction to specific situations and the type of experience a client is having. By asking clients to rate their feelings or experiences on a scale, therapists can gain measurable and comparative insight into their clients' perspectives. Asking for a number rather than a direct feeling can often be easier for clients and less intimidating or threatening. 

  • "On a scale of one to ten, how would you rate your overall mood this week?"


  • "How confident do you feel about managing the challenges we discussed last time on a scale of one to ten." 

These questions provide a clear, structured format for clients to express the intensity or frequency of their experiences, making it easier to track changes over time.

2. Questions About Feelings 

As part of a check-in conversation, delving into emotions is an essential and obvious function. Some therapists might want to use the Feelings Wheel, a tool that helps clients identify and articulate their feelings, both the obvious and the more difficult ones, and get into the practice of using it regularly. Questions in this category encourage clients to explore and name their feelings, which can be particularly helpful for those who struggle to express themselves emotionally. Conflicting emotions are crucial for a therapist to help a client understand, as they can lead to a lot of ambivalence and feelings of being stuck. Therefore, a therapist might ask appropriate questions to help clients understand their conflicting emotions.

  • "Looking at the Feelings Wheel, which emotions best describe how you've been feeling lately?"  or

  • "Can you identify a feeling on the wheel that you experienced strongly this week?"

3 Goal-Oriented Questions

Goal-oriented questions are designed to help clients identify their aspirations and objectives and determine the steps they need to take to achieve them. By asking these types of questions, clients can gain clarity about their goals, recognize their own abilities, and reflect on their progress. Therapists might ask,

  • "What are some goals you have for yourself in the coming weeks?" or

  • "How have you achieved your goals since our last session?"

Goal-oriented questions are designed to help clients identify their aspirations and objectives, and to determine the steps they need to take to achieve them. By asking these types of questions, clients can gain clarity about their goals, recognize their own abilities, and reflect on their progress.

4. Questions From Our Other Sessions

Asking specific questions can help clients identify their goals and understand their progress. This approach also encourages clients to take an active role in their personal growth and therapy objectives. Additionally, it provides therapists with valuable feedback about the client's experience in-between sessions, allowing them to adjust their approach as necessary.. Such questions might include,

  • "Is there a particular topic from our last session that you've found yourself thinking about more this week?" or

  • "Were there any insights from our last meeting that you felt particularly resonated with or challenged you?"

  • "Has any particular behavior worse or symptom better?"

Therapists can use certain questions to assist their clients in contemplating their progress, identifying recurring thought patterns or behaviors, and assessing the effect of past conversations. These kinds of questions encourage clients to engage in a reflective dialogue with themselves and the therapeutic process, leading to enhanced self-awareness and a feeling of advancement with time.

What About Check-Out Questions?

It is helpful to ask check-out questions at the end of a session in addition to check-in questions at the beginning. Often, therapists focus more on questions at the start of a session, but check-out questions can also be important.

Creating a check-out ritual can help bring a sense of closure, reflection, and growth to the group. This ritual can be a way to mark the end of the session and give individuals a chance to express their thoughts and consolidate their experiences. By providing a structured way for each member to share their takeaways, feelings, and suggestions, a check-out can be a powerful tool for gauging the effectiveness of the session and ensuring that all voices are heard. It marks not just the end of a meeting but the beginning of a deeper processing of what has been shared and learned.

The Importance of Check-Out Questions

There is no right or wrong way to conduct a check-out, and the questions asked may vary. However, they should all aim to encourage thoughtfulness, insight, and honest feedback.

  •  "What is one key insight you are taking away from today's meeting?"

  • "How do you feel about the discussions and decisions made today?"

Expanding the Impact of Check-Out Rituals

Engaging in a check-out ritual at the end of a session has several benefits beyond just summarizing the discussion. It can have a lasting impact on the overall culture of your work and the relationship with your clients. Regularly engaging in this practice creates an environment where feedback is valued and continuous improvement is encouraged. This sets a precedent for open communication, mutual respect, and shared responsibility. Ultimately, these rituals can lead to more effective and cohesive connections with clients, making them feel more connected to you and their work over time.

Working In The Transference

It's important to regularly ask your clients new and varied questions about the therapeutic process and your relationship with them. Doing so can provide valuable insight into how they perceive you. This information can help you understand any transference occurring or how the client perceives you in the therapeutic relationship. Gaining this insight is a crucial aspect of therapy.

If you're new to being a therapist, this might be unfamiliar territory, but as a clinical supervisor, I love helping my associates understand these dynamics and use them to take therapy to the next level. 

50 therapy check-in questions pdf


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