Finding The Right Therapist

The relationship between client (or patient) and therapist (or counselor) is very important.  Counseling is a uniquely personal experience and its effectiveness is highly dependent upon this relationship.  The importance of this relationship has often been cited in clinical outcome research.

You should feel understood, cared for, and respected.  It is very important to feel that you can talk to the therapist you are working with and that you feel understood, cared for, and respected.   Depending upon the reason(s) you are seeking help, it might be important to discuss very sensitive and personal topics and experiences.

You should feel comfortable with the therapist.  Speaking openly and honestly about things that are disturbing to you is difficult enough.  A therapist is someone that you should feel comfortable with and able to trust.  If you don’t feel this way, you should be able to talk about it with the therapist.  This should result in your feeling comfortable with and able to trust him or her.

You and the therapist should have the similar goals in mind.   In the first session or two, there should be some discussion of what you want to accomplish in treatment.  Having similar goals helps treatment to proceed in a clear direction and end with a better outcome.

You should feel that you get something out of talking to a therapist.  At first, it may be as basic as feeling heard or understood, or becoming more relaxed or comfortable.  You might also experience some uncomfortable feelings like sadness, guilt, anger, frustration, loneliness, and helplessness.  In many instances, people report feeling better even before their situations have changed.

It is helpful to think about difficulties as having three qualities
– frequency (or how often they occur),
– intensity (or how bad they are when they happen), and
– duration (or how long does it take before you recover).  Improvement occurs as these qualities change – sometimes at the same time and other times, one quality at a time.  In either event, it is helpful to notice when this is happening and to think about what has been making a difference.

As therapy progresses, you should be able to notice some changes.  Sometimes, they are in the form of thinking or feeling about things a bit differently.  There might be some new or improved approaches or solutions to problems.   Others may comment about how much better you seem to be doing and close  relationships may improve.