Therapy is a valuable tool to help you manage mental health conditions, recover from addiction, or work through trauma. The stigma that surrounds mental health treatment can act as a barrier for individuals to get the help that they may need. If you are new to mental health treatment, you may fear opening up to and working with a professional that you do not connect with on a deeper level. There are many wonderful therapists out there, but that doesn’t mean that they are all a great fit for your specific condition or concern. Therapy can be a vital resource to help you to heal and change for the better, but before you begin the hard work of self-improvement, you must find a therapist that is a good fit for you.
The Benefits of Having the Right Therapist
You may, like many people in therapy, experience growing pains as you work with your therapist and find it difficult to identify the source of your unease. Are you struggling with your treatment plan? Are old habits too hard to overcome? The healing process isn’t always comfortable. Part of experiencing growth is experiencing discomfort. When you are confident that your therapist is the right fit, however, you are more likely to make progress.
In addition to individual therapy, there are many advantages to using a comprehensive case management strategy with multiple health professionals working with you at once. In both case management scenarios and individual therapy regimens, when you experience a deeper connection with your therapist or treatment team, you are more likely to experience positive results. The benefits of having the right therapist include:
- Being more comfortable during sessions. You will feel less pressure to act a certain way around a therapist with whom you have built rapport. You will feel more compelled to be honest about what you are thinking, how you are feeling, and how you are behaving outside of the treatment center.
- Feeling empowered during low moments. We all experience days filled with sadness or other unpleasant emotions. With the right therapist on your side, you can find the motivation to attend sessions because you know that your therapist will be able to lift you up, even on your worst days. When you experience moments of numbness or lack of control in recovery, it is crucial that you have a therapist that can empower you to stay on track.
- Being responsible to come up with coping mechanisms and solutions. The right therapist will give you the tools to find your own solutions to your problems through guided discussion instead of telling you their personal ideas for how you should think, feel, and behave. A good fit will support you and empower you to handle stress on your own outside of treatment.
- Succeeding long term. Having a therapist that you connect with will motivate you to stay engaged in treatment. A good client-therapist relationship is essential to helping an individual connect with the treatment therapy process, remain in treatment, and get the most from each session.
What To Look For in a Therapist
Before you set up your first session, it is helpful to read up on the mental health professional you’ve chosen. Use this as an opportunity to learn about your therapist and understand their background and education. Many therapists also specialize in different disorders or types of treatment modalities, so if you want to see a therapist that is well-versed in treating your specific condition, you can typically find that information in their online profile.
How you identify yourself might also be an important factor in choosing a therapist, especially if you are seeking trauma therapy. To find a good match, it may be helpful to consider your or your therapist’s:
- Sexual identity/orientation
Signs That Your Therapist May Not Be the Right Fit
If you are concerned that your therapist is not the right fit, it is important to find a new provider. Some signs that your therapist may not be the right fit might include:
- Feeling uncomfortable with sharing information. It’s normal to feel uncomfortable during your first few sessions, but if you don’t feel connected with your therapist and can’t open up to them about your problems, they aren’t the right fit for you.
- Receiving care that is too generic. Your treatment plan must fit your unique and specific needs. If your therapist doesn’t adjust their treatment approach to accommodate you, they may not be the right fit.
- Feeling ashamed, judged, or misunderstood. You are often at your most vulnerable during a therapy session. An effective therapist understands this emotional fragility and offers universal acceptance and validation. If you feel persistent, negative emotions during sessions because of your therapist’s reactions, you may want to find someone new.
- Ignoring your personal goals. Therapy is meant to be client-driven, meaning that the goals that you have for yourself should be the top priority. A competent therapist will not push an agenda on you. Instead, they will check in and evaluate how well you are responding to treatment with respect to the goals you want to pursue.
While therapy can be a valuable tool for healing from mental distress, it isn’t effective unless you have a good relationship with your therapist. It can be difficult to know if a therapist is the right fit, especially because healing often comes with inevitable discomfort. With the right therapist, you will feel comfortable in sessions, be responsible for finding solutions to your problems, and experience greater treatment success. When looking for a therapist, it’s helpful to acknowledge your own identity and preferences. Be sure to research your therapist beforehand so you know what areas they specialize in. If you are uncomfortable sharing honestly, feel judged by your therapist, or feel like your goals aren’t a priority, you may want to consider switching therapists. West Coast Recovery Centers understand how crucial the therapist-client relationship is for sustaining recovery. We will work with you to find the therapist that meets your needs best. Call (760) 492-6509.