With conditions like depression and anxiety on the rise, more Americans are seeking out therapy for treatment, and with the price of medications and therapy’s recorded success (75-80% effectiveness), it is a very popular option. What makes a good therapist? This is a question each person must work through and it may take a few visits to different therapists before the answer is clear. Therapy is an extremely intimate experience and there are several guiding principles to keep in mind when selecting a counselor.
1). Is your therapist understanding and non-judgmental?
Everyone has a unique backstory and lifestyle, and it is crucial that your therapist does not judge you based on either of these factors. It is part of their job to help you work through unhealthy habits, but if you feel like they are disparaging you because of your choices, you should not continue with them. Therapists should be sensitive and understanding no matter where you are in your recovery.
2). Does your therapist provide you with a sense of hope and inspiration?
Motivation is quite possibly the one ingredient than you cannot do without when it comes to recovery. If you are not motivated, it doesn’t matter how great your therapist is in other ways; you will not make progress. Your therapist should be a source of encouragement and prompt you to keep working towards your goals even when you are discouraged.
3) Is your therapist able to track and communicate your progress?
A very common fear when it comes to therapy is that it will last forever. No one wants to keep spending time and money on something that seems to be going nowhere, so it is imperative that your therapist be able to tell you where you are succeeding and how to keep making improvements in your life. Some therapists do a regular check-in where you are asked a series of questions and scored on a 1-10 scale. The lower the number, the better your well-being. However they chose to monitor you, a good therapist will be able to tell you how effective their guidance has been.
4). Do you feel like the therapist is a partner in your recovery?
The last principle to keep in mind is perhaps the most important. There are many different kinds of therapists, including ones who serve more as listeners than coaches, but the key is if you feel like the therapist is on your side and invested in meeting your goals. It is irrelevant if a therapist is sensitive and inspiring if you feel like you’re doing this thing on your own. The whole point of therapy is that you have someone who is walking alongside you, and if your therapist seems detached or uninvolved, they are not the right therapist.
When searching for a therapist, it is perfectly acceptable to be selective. Don’t settle for a therapist you feel is only “ok,” but instead keep looking until you find someone you really click with and who can make a strong impact in your life. Utilize resources like client reviews to gather information about the kind of therapist you want to work with, and be patient. A therapist is a person who will be developing a very close, unique relationship with you, and you want to be confident in their ability to help you.
Novotney, A. (2013, February 1). The therapist effect.. Retrieved May 3, 2014, from http://www.apa.org/monitor/2013/02/therapist.aspx
Whitbourne, S. (2011, August 8). 13 Qualities to Look for in an Effective Psychotherapist. Retrieved May 3, 2014, from http://m.psychologytoday.com/blog/fulfillment-any-age/201108/13-qualities-to-look-in-effective-psychotherapist