Do You Speak Therapist?

A list of common questions and phrases used in therapy – includes a free PDF printable version of this resource

By Cassie Jewell, M.Ed., LPC, LSATP

Therapists have their own unique (and purposeful) language. We may use jargon when talking to others in the field, but with our clients (and most likely, with other significant people in our lives), we are focused and thoughtful.

Therapy is a tool for self-discovery; as therapists, it’s important to know how to effectively employ this tool. (For example, a hammer, while a useful tool, would not be effective if someone used the handle to pound a nail instead of the head.) What we say and how we say it is powerful: open-ended questions, reflections, clarifications, etc.

The following is a list of questions/phrases I find myself using in individual therapy and group sessions to explore, empathize, empower, and motivate change, including a few versions of the “miracle question” (a question used in therapy that asks the client to imagine what their life would look like if, miraculously, all of their problems disappeared and everything was perfect).

Click below to access a printable PDF version of this list.


1. How are you feeling?

2. How does/did that make you feel?

3. What would happen if you gave yourself permission to feel your emotions?

4. What was that experience like for you?

5. When did you first notice that…

6. When did you first recognize that…

7. What are your current internal experiences and reactions?

8. I’m noticing that…

9. What I’m hearing is…

10. It sounds like…

11. I wonder if…

12. It makes a lot of sense hearing it from your perspective… and, I wonder what would happen if…

13. May I share some feedback with you?

14. Are you open to a suggestion?

15. Would you like to hear a different perspective?

16. May I share my observations?

17. Would you like to know more about [mental health topic]?

18. Some research indicates that __________, but other studies have found that __________.

19. Tell more about that.

20. Tell me what that was like for you.

21. Will you say more about that?

22. Can you speak to…

23. I’m not sure I understand.

24. Help me to understand.

25. Correct me if I’m wrong, but…

26. What am I missing? Something doesn’t quite match up…

27. Is there anything else I need to know?

28. Did I hear you correctly when you said…

29. May I pause you for a minute?

30. Can we return to what you said earlier about…

31. It looks like you shut down when I said __________. Can we talk about it?

32. You seem distracted today. Do you want to talk about something else?

33. Do you want to take a break from this topic?

34. What do you think __________ would say if they were here in this room with us?

35. If it was __________ in this situation, what advice would you give them?

36. What does __________ look like to you?

37. What does __________ mean to you?

38. What message did you hear when they said…

39. How would your life be different if you didn’t have…

40. Was there anything you could have done differently?

41. It sounds like you were doing the best you could with what you had at the time.

42. Honestly, I’m not sure how I would have reacted if in your shoes.

43. You’re the expert on you.

44. I wish I had the answer to that.

45. That’s a really good question. What do you think?

46. On the one hand __________, but on the other…

47. You say __________, but your actions…

48. I’m concerned that…

49. I can only imagine how __________ that was for you.

50. Can we explore this more?

Worksheets, Activities, & Guides for Group or Individual Therapy

(Updated 5/30/20) A list of free PDF printable worksheets and activities to use with clients in group and individual sessions

By Cassie Jewell, M.Ed., LPC, LSATP

This is a list of forms, handouts, and worksheets I created to use with clients. Feel free to print/reproduce/share. Please check back frequently as I update regularly!

(Click here for a list of additional sites with free therapy resources.)



Good for newly formed groups. Each group member writes down their “first impression” of other group members. The facilitator then reviews each “impression,” and group members have the opportunity to share their answers.

Print/cut the cards, fold, and place in a container. Group members take turns drawing the cards and answering the questions.

Give group members 15-20 minutes to collect signatures. The first person to collect all signatures wins.

Print/cut the cards, fold, and place in a container to pass around. This activity works best with a working group.





Daily Self-Inventory for Mental Health Professionals