In my blog a few weeks ago, I wrote about 3 Part Journey to Healing. Today, I would like to go into more depth into the 1st Part, which is An Emotionally Safe Relationship. How do I know if the therapist I am seeking or wondering about seeing is a good fit for me? Here are 4 ways to know if they are a good fit.
1. First Contact: Ask yourself, how did I find this therapist? What has my first contact with them been like?
If you found your therapist from a personal referral from someone you trust, that may be a good start. You can ask the referral source what they know about the therapist and why they would recommend them or not for your situation.
When you have never met the therapist and don’t know of anyone else who has, start with gathering info from your first contact. Perhaps you found the therapist online, you liked the website or profile, and you chose to contact the facility to see if you could get more information or your questions answered. To see if it is a fit, take note of how responsive the facility or therapist is a getting back to you. If it takes several days or weeks to receive a response, then that might be a typical experience. You may ask, with my situation, how immediately responsive do I need my therapist to be?
- Family, Couples, or Individual Therapy: Ask yourself, would a relationally focused therapist or an individually focused therapist better serve my needs?
Different credentials mean different training. Some therapists, such as Marriage and Family Therapists are required to have at least half of their training hours with two or more related people in the room. Consider what your end therapeutic goal is and then ask yourself, if you need the expertise of a relationally focused therapist or a more individual focus to reach your goals.
- Create a Space: Ask yourself, how does the therapeutic space make me feel? Is it orderly and clean? Can I feel at peace in this space?
Another thing to note is the feel of the therapeutic space. Does it feel like the space is in order, peaceful, and calm? Does it feel like a place of comfort and refuge or a more anxiety invoking space to you? Take note of this even in the waiting room.
- The Relationship: Ask yourself, how safe do I feel to share my story with him or her? And how confident am I that my therapist can help me?
Like I mentioned in the previous blog, if you like your therapist and feel emotionally safe with them, you are 30% more likely to reach your therapeutic goals. Just because you went to one person DOES NOT mean that that person has to be YOUR therapist (or doctor for that matter). Shop around until you find the person with whom you can feel safe and trust with your important situation.
Here are a few questions you can ask yourself about your experience with your therapist to know if it is a fit:
- Did I feel like my therapist could hear my story with a non-judgmental stance?
- Did I feel like my feelings and experiences are valid?
- Did I feel like my therapist could take my perspective and attempt to understand my struggle?
- By the end of the first session, did my therapist understand my goals?
- Do I feel like my therapist gave me more confidence and hope that I did not have when I came in? If so, how?
- If I really needed some help, do I trust that this person?
At Swinton Counseling, we know that there are many options out there. By answering these 4 series of questions about your therapeutic relationship and feeling satisfied with your answers, you will feel more confident that you have found the right person to help you reach your goals. Without this confidence, keep looking until you do find the right person to help you.