As a psychotherapist, one of the questions I’m most often asked is “How do I know if a therapist is right for me?” There’s no easy answer to that question. You might have someone who is a very good counselor and treats clients with compassion and sensitivity and you may have someone else who falls far outside of these values. Sometimes the best therapist in the world won’t be able to bridge the gap. That’s why it’s important to explore as many options as possible before deciding on one therapist.
The first thing I suggest is asking other therapists. One way to do that is by word-of-mouth. If you know of a therapist, ask them what they like and don’t like about their own practice. Is there anything in particular that you’ve heard from your own clients that they didn’t like? Once you have a list of things to talk about, you’re ready to make your first consultation.
Another method of researching potential therapists is through a psychologist or another mental health professional. Usually, you’ll be asked to fill out a questionnaire. Be as thorough as you can. You want to be completely honest because it will take a personal reflection to really find out whether a particular therapist is right for you. Although asking others for feedback is a nice touch, it’s not always the best source of information.
Another way to get some feedback on a therapist is by going online. There are a few websites that allow people to share their stories about their time with different therapists. Even if a particular therapist has received only one or two reviews, that doesn’t mean that he or she isn’t worth checking out. In fact, looking at several therapists side by side will give you a better idea of who you’re really compatible with.
If you have a trusted friend, family member or co-worker who has had therapy recently, find out where they went and what they thought of the therapist. Keep in mind that every person has a unique personality. A client’s personality is usually what draws you to them initially. Once you establish rapport with the therapist, you’ll also begin to see how the therapist interacts with other clients. This type of insight into the therapist’s personality will let you know how you feel about the therapist’s skill for handling your needs.
The other key way to find out how well a therapist communicates with you is to speak with the therapist directly. Tell the therapist how you feel when you’re working with them and what you need help doing. Even if you’re speaking with the therapist over the phone, you should still tell them that you’re comfortable leaving it up to them. Don’t let them talk you into something that doesn’t feel right. In the case of therapy, if you don’t feel that you trust your therapist, you may want to continue your search until you find a therapist who you are open and comfortable with.
One last thing to ask is the therapist’s ability to listen to your concerns. Find out if you can express your worries and concerns to the therapist. Not only will this help you be able to feel more comfortable with the therapist, but it will also help the therapist to better understand what you’re going through. This is important because even though you’re not seeing the therapist face-to-face, the therapist needs to understand how you’re feeling. Sometimes, simply listening is all that is needed.
In most cases, you’ll be able to answer these questions with ease. If not, you’ll need to work on your own to discover how do I know if a therapist is mentally healthy. If the therapist has many problems and conflicts, it’s likely that your personality is also unhealthy. If this is the case, you’ll have to make sure that you keep the therapist’s attention when he or she is supposed to be working with you. If the therapist keeps interrupting to talk to you, move on. Your therapist’s job is not to make you feel guilty, but to help you solve your problem.