Picking A Compatible Therapist

Picking a compatible therapist

I've heard many people say that therapy didn't work for them.

Several factors contribute to whether therapy is successful, but, the connection you have with the therapist is essential.

You have to feel comfortable and safe enough to explore what comes up in therapy. Trust takes time but eventually you should be able to talk about almost everything without fear of judgement or criticism. 

Psychotherapy varies depending on the approach and personal style of the therapist. It's helpful for find these out early to help you decide if the person is right for you.

Types of Therapy

There are many different approaches to counseling but here are a few to start you off.

  • Psychodynamic - focuses on the impact of childhood

  • Cognitive behavioral - looks at beliefs and behaviors

  • Solution-focused - focuses on positive solutions

  • Somatic - focuses on the connection between the body and mind

  • Gestalt - is a more active approach, includes role-plays, and rehearsing

  • Humanistic - focuses on the deeper meaning of life, self-actualization

  • Holistic/Integrative - non-traditional therapies like hypnotherapy, guided imagery

What to Look for:

There are different types of counseling so be sure to ask about their approach. On the initial phone call they should be able to tell you how they work with your specific issue. Some therapists focus on thought patterns, childhood, solutions, and/or mindfulness, mind/body, with many variations. 

Same goes for the style of the therapist, some are direct and offer solutions. Some have a more gentle, non-directive method. Some are a mixture of both. 

You will probably need to meet the therapist in person to experience their therapeutic style. You may get a sense of it during the initial contact.

Ask Questions

Don't be afraid to ask questions. You are the consumer - so if you have any concerns let the know up front. How they answer will also give you valuable information.

Some Ideas:

  • How often do they see clients?

  • Do they focus on changing behaviors, beliefs or do they focus on the process?

  • Will you get specific tools - like how to communicate, handle anger, stay sober?

  • If they aren't a match, what happens then?

  • How do they describe their approach?

Be Wary of Online Reviews

Therapists are ethically bound to not ask for testimonials due to confidentiality issues. Colleagues may review each other if they are familiar with each other's work and reputation. The problem with online reviews is that anyone can leave a review - even someone who has never met the therapist! The counselor cannot confirm or deny a client ever so taking these reviews at face value isn't recommended.

Trust Your Gut

One more thing, if you get a bad feeling, trust it. Sometimes it's just not a match. Not everyone is a match. If that's the case, don't be afraid to ask for a referral. If you don't feel comfortable it will effect the work!

If you are looking for a therapist, what's important to you? Think about what kind of person you feel most comfortable with. Are they gentle and easy-going or do you prefer a more direct approach? There is no right answer, this is a very personal decision.

Asking a trusted friend who goes to therapy for a recommendation is ideal. Even though the internet is easy, a personal testimonial is always best. 

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