Tuesday Jul 20, 2021
If you are thinking about seeing a therapist or have been seeing a therapist and are asking yourself this question, don’t despair. Here are some important questions you should be asking yourself.
Is The Therapist A Good Fit?
Therapy is not a one size fits all kind of process. There are many different models of therapy and there are plenty of qualified and compassionate counselors and therapists available to you. But it may take some time to find the right one. As is the case with any relationship, some are good fits and some are not. For example, cognitive behavioral therapy offers the premise that irrational thoughts must be reconstructed in order to elicit change. Other types of therapy look to family of origin issues and deeply explore the deeper, core emotional constructs that motivate behavior. Some other models are systemic and seek to make meaning of one’s life by understanding the context in which it’s lived. It’s important to choose not only a model that feels comfortable for you; but also it’s important to select a therapist that your gut tells you is a good fit. It’s difficult to allow yourself to explore deeper feelings when you’re not feeling comfortable in the therapeutic relationship. It’s important to feel validated and valued.
The therapeutic relationship should be based on trust. If you’re working with a therapist who doesn’t seem to be a good fit, listen to your voice. Do your research and find another one who may be more effective for you.
Don’t Be Afraid To Disagree … Share When You’re Not Feeling Heard
When beginning to work with new clients, the first thing I want them to know is that, I’m just beginning to get to know them; and that I need their help to really understand their problems from their perspectives. So, if a therapist is not getting it right or doesn’t understand, it’s important for you to let them know. The therapist’s role is to know the client through the client’s eyes. It’s your role to ensure they see it through your perspective.
When should I begin to notice change?
Therapy is one of those contexts where first impressions are important. However, beginning therapy requires patience. In the first two or three sessions, you’re just getting to know each other. It’s natural to feel uncomfortable at first; but if you are still feeling uncomfortable after two or three sessions, then it’s probably best to consider other options. Having said that, expectations for the length of time therapy may take should be reasonable and explicit.
According to the APA, it takes an average of 15 to 20 sessions for clients to begin to experience change. If you are attending therapy once a week, that’s about 3 to 5 months of treatment. This doesn’t mean that the problem is completely resolved. Every case is different. The commitment to time should be fluid and something that is discussed with your therapist, as you acknowledge progress and re-assess goals.
And by all means, let the therapist know why you have reconsidered. It’s important feedback for him or her to have.
Are you doing the work you need to be doing?
While there are no guarantees, what you will gain from therapy will be directly related to your ability to be open and honest. The therapeutic goal should be to better understand your thoughts and feelings and how they make sense to you and then to work with your therapist on creating a more preferred sense of yourself and your experiences.
Therapy is an intensely personal process. In order to be effective, therapy requires that you be active and involved. Sometimes this process can be painful and bring unpleasant memories or emotions to the surface. While it’s important to be open to new perspectives, this may be challenging at first.
This is another important reason why a strong therapeutic alliance between you and your therapist is important. When sharing on a deeper, personal level, it’s important that you feel safe so that you can take emotional risks. While therapy may be painful at times, one should never feel judged or criticized. One should always feel valued and validated. It’s also important that the therapist go slow and follow your pace. If he or she gets too far ahead of you and you’re not ready to visit those painful places, you’re probably not going to want to continue therapy.
And Finally …
A good therapist is there to help you feel better about yourself. The goal is for you to gain agency and a sense of self. While therapy may be painful at times, it’s always your option to stay in treatment or leave it. An experienced, ethical therapist will always respect your decision, even when it may not serve them professionally.
Dr. Laura Richter is a licensed Marriage and Family therapist who works with individuals, couples, and families. Her specialties include: surviving infidelity, improving communication, beginning again after divorce and effective co-parenting after divorce. She is also a trained mediator, qualified parenting coordinator and collaborative law mental health professional. For more information, please call or text us today at 561-715-6404 to schedule a consultation to see how we can help.