In Part I of this blog series, we focused on the practicalities of finding and contacting a therapist. However, it’s important to know that the process of finding the right therapist for you takes work, and it can sometimes mean meeting with multiple people until you’ve found what feels like a perfect match. So, in Part II of this series I’m going to focus on how to tell if you’ve found the right therapist for you.
Why is it important to keep searching until you find the RIGHT therapist?
You might be asking yourself: “Why do I have to keep searching until I’ve found the ‘right’ therapist for me? Isn’t it enough to just meet with any therapist?”
The answer is yes and no.
YES, you can gain some helpful insights from any therapist you work with, but also NO, it isn’t enough to settle for meeting with just any therapist you find on the internet.
Why? Well, because one of the biggest predictors of success in therapy is the THERAPEUTIC RELATIONSHIP!
I’ll say that again because it’s just so important….
If you want to get the most out of therapy, one of the biggest factors that makes therapy successful is the RELATIONSHIP you establish between you and your therapist. This means that how you feel working with a particular therapist directly influences whether you move towards your goals of healing.
Numerous studies have shown that what helps people improve in therapy is largely the relationship they have with their therapist. That’s why it’s so important to not just “settle” for any therapist, but to find a therapist that feels right for you.
How can I tell if my therapist is the “right fit” for me?
Here are five indicators that a therapist is the right fit for you:
1 - You like them.
This might seem silly to point out, but it’s actually really important that you like your therapist as a person. If you like your therapist, you’ll be more comfortable with them from the beginning, and you’ll also be more open to them challenging you in ways you need to grow in the future.
2 - You feel comfortable.
It obviously takes time to feel completely comfortable opening up to a new person about some very vulnerable aspects of ourselves. This process of opening up will go faster if you’re sitting with someone that makes you feel comfortable. This feeling of comfort can be communicated in different ways – including their facial expressions, tone of voice, and body language. The right fit for you will put you at ease early on in the process, and there will be an ease to talking with them. If after 4-6 weeks you still feel very uncomfortable and awkward talking with your therapist, they might not be the best fit for you.
3 - But not too comfortable - You also feel challenged by them.
Therapy isn’t just about making you feel good all the time. Part of our job as a therapist is to both support you, and to challenge you in ways that you need to grow. Some therapists have more confrontational styles, while others are more gentle. Think about what style of motivation you respond to best, and look for a therapist that matches that style.
4 - You don’t feel judged.
Therapy should ideally be a space where you can bring your whole, unfiltered self-into the process. If you’re working with someone that makes you feel judged, it will hold you back from being able to express yourself fully. Even when therapists challenge you to grow, it shouldn’t be done in a way that feels shaming or judgmental.
5 - You feel understood.
The right therapist should make you feel deeply understood. You should feel like they “get” your personality or sense of humor – essentially what makes you, you. This is one of the best gifts your therapist can give you – the feeling of being seen and understood. So if you consistently feel like your therapist misunderstands you or misinterprets your emotions, they might not be the best person to continue working with.
Remember that finding a therapist is a lot like finding a new friend. Sometimes you meet people, and right away you click with them and it feels comfortable and flows. Other times you meet people that don’t seem to blend well with your personality, and it just feels disconnected. The same thing happens with therapists, and that’s ok. You shouldn’t have to force yourself to work with someone that doesn’t feel right to you, and that doesn’t seem to fit well with your personality.
Your healing is important, and you are worth finding someone that will respect and honor your unique personality, even if that means taking a little more time to find the right person for you.
I am confident that each of you reading this can put in the extra work to find not just any therapist, but the right therapist – trust me, in the end it will be so worth it!