Some people wonder if it is OK to have more than one therapist. Well, the answer is that it depends upon your situation. If you have a mental health professional such as a psychiatrist or psychologist that is treating you for your particular disorder, it is perfectly acceptable to have two therapists. Your psychiatrist or psychologist will be the primary caregiver and the therapist will shadow him or her. In most cases, you will be able to work seamlessly with both therapists.
However, if you are seeing a licensed therapist such as a clinical social worker or a licensed mental health counselor, you may not feel comfortable having two therapists because the therapist may be able to see the signs of your disorder or behavioral problem but your other therapist may not. This can pose a conflict and it may end up in favor of one therapist over another. Another example is if you are seeing a psychiatrist to treat your disorder but your other therapist is trained in family, marriage and child therapy and/or cognitive-behavioral therapy, which focuses on how you view yourself and others. If your psychiatrist is a psychiatrist and your other therapist is a therapist who specializes in family therapy or marriage therapy, it may not be feasible to have two therapists working with you.
However, if both therapists share an expertise in different areas of therapy such as clinical social work, marriage and family therapy, and cognitive-behavioral therapy, it may be more feasible to have two therapists working with you. You can also have one therapist to monitor the progress of your therapy session if you have several sessions. Also, if you are having an outpatient treatment plan, it may not be practical to have two therapists since one of the therapists can simply drop you off at the hospital for your treatment. One therapist can do the intensive therapy and one can simply observe or facilitate the client’s treatment at home.
The other option is to have one therapist to supervise your appointments, or have your sessions on consecutive days. This ensures that the therapist will be able to recognize your symptoms and develop effective interventions and treatments around these symptoms. It may also help if the therapists are in the same building or sometimes in the same office during your consultations. Having two therapists at work on opposite sides of the door may be confusing to the patient and frustrating for the therapist. Therefore, you may want to consider having one therapist to observe the patient during the consultations and have the other therapist help you with interventions or provide support as needed.
Of course, when both the therapists are the same sex, it may be more convenient and/or psychologically more beneficial to have one therapist, since they will understand each other’s styles and use them in helping you. The therapist who understands his/her patient better is better able to build rapport and build a better relationship with the patient. When this type of scenario occurs, the therapist is also able to quickly make adjustments and changes to the treatment plan based on what the patient is conveying and the feedback the patient is providing. This can greatly reduce errors and hold the therapists accountable for their work.
Some therapists prefer working with a co-therapist. In this case, the therapist works alongside another therapist in a two-on-one setting. This arrangement may feel a bit more comfortable and even helpful for some patients. The co-therapist can provide input into the treatment plan and the therapist can also learn more about how the other responds to different situations. However, patients should be warned that working too closely with a co-therapist can make it difficult to express their feelings and may make the therapy less productive.
Although it is common practice to have one primary therapist to do case work and one or two specialty cases, some patients may prefer to see other health professionals. This includes other physicians, nurses, mental health counselors and psychologists. For those patients, it may be wise to choose one therapist to handle their entire case. Even though it may be more expensive, this method allows the patients to receive care from multiple health practitioners without disrupting their current treatment. Unfortunately, when people experience a significant life change, they may not feel as comfortable switching therapists as quickly as they would like.
One of the biggest issues in therapy is feeling comfortable with the people who are trying to help. Although many people think of a therapist as a kind soul who is just there to listen and offer words of encouragement, there are some who can act as critical thinkers who can offer the patients encouragement when things get tough. In the end, whether two therapists are used or one therapist is used, the patients and their therapists must work together for the benefit of the patients. If they do not, the benefits can be minimal.