For many, the prospect of therapy – of having to open up and share your deepest most vulnerable self with a stranger – is terrifying. In fact, fear is cited as one of the main reasons many people who could benefit from therapy opt out, instead.
However, the key to healing and growing in session lies in finding someone you trust. Someone you work well with, and who you benefit from seeing.
Here are 5 qualities to look for in a therapist, as well as some key actions you can take before you begin your search.
Establish Your Treatment Goals
To get the maximum benefit from therapy, one of the first steps is to think about what you’d like to accomplish. If you’re depressed or suffer from anxiety, those are things you’d most likely address. The same applies if you’re feeling stuck, lost, or uncertain.
Finding a therapist who specializes in treating what you’re struggling with is an excellent place to start.
Other things you may want to consider are:
- The gender of your therapist – some females are more comfortable speaking with another female, etc.
- Their treatment approach and methodology
- Your goals – the level of functioning you’d love to regain
A good therapist will ask what your goals are and will work with you to help you bring them to life. Besides that, here are some other qualities to look for in a therapist.
5 Qualities of a Good Therapist
Ok, so you have somewhat of an idea of what you’d like to work on, and an idea of whom you’re comfortable sharing with. Armed with that knowledge, here are some other things you should look for in a therapist.
1. They’re Professional …and Likable
Choosing someone who’s licensed – or is accumulating the hours necessary to become licensed and is under the clinical supervision of a licensed mental health professional – is a no brainer.
If they specialize in treating what you’re struggling with, that’s even better.
You want to ensure you find a therapist with boundaries – treatment is about you after all – your therapist is someone who’s rooting for you and supports you in your healing journey, but is not your new best friend.
You want someone who makes you feel comfortable, who’s open and forthcoming, who’s kind and compassionate.
Steer clear: Avoid therapists who share too much about themselves, seem distracted, judgmental, aren’t asking questions or encouraging you to elaborate, who just don’t seem to “get” you.
2. There’s a Treatment Plan
A good therapist will listen to your concerns, struggles, and take those into account to help create a path toward your ideal future.
They will share the treatment plan with you so that the two of you can work together, and you’ll have clear markers indicating progress.
They should also be flexible; if something clearly isn’t working or you uncover something else that becomes challenging, the treatment plan can be modified and adjusted accordingly.
Steer clear: If sessions feel unstructured, if you’re just talking about the same things and not really getting anywhere, this may not be the best use of your time. Therapy exists to help you move forward, and if you’re not getting anywhere, that’s a problem.
3. They are Excellent at Listening and Communicating
Listening – being present and actually listening – is a skill. You want a therapist who is able to do this, and do it well.
Your therapist should ask questions, have you elaborate and reflect.
They should understand when things are getting too overwhelming, and work with you to establish skills and tools to calm yourself, both in and out of session.
Your therapist should be able to clearly articulate and communicate.
Steer Clear: You don’t want a distracted therapist, or someone who isn’t socially apt enough to pick up on the subtle non-verbal clues on how you’re doing.
4. They Believe in You
A good therapist believes in you. They may challenge you, but only when they think you’re ready. They give you things to practice, to pay attention to. They may see and realize things about you – such as your strength and capabilities – when you’re too focused on other things to notice.
They’re able to point things out, and help you connect the dots to various relevant experiences in your life.
Steer Clear: You don’t want a therapist who lets you run the show and doesn’t offer anything of value.
5. You Trust Them
Trust is a foundational aspect of any relationship, and paramount to have with your therapist. After all, you’re being incredibly vulnerable and open – perhaps more so than you’ve been with anyone, ever.
If trust is an issue, this is especially important.
How is trust defined in the patient therapist relationship?
Feeling as though your therapist is there for you, within the
boundaries of the patient therapist container. Knowing that they will be there for you, allow you to feel, and keep you safe. Knowing that they have your best interest at heart and are invested in helping you reach your goals.
This may mean they challenge you from time to time. If you ask them for their opinion, perhaps you may not totally like their answer. However, there’s something very refreshing about a relationship that’s built on a foundation of trust and honesty.
Steer Clear: If they gossip, mention other patients by name, or seem generally disinterested. Or if you feel as though they are placating you; not being genuine.
If you’re looking for a team of good therapists in Northern California, give us a call. We have two convenient locations, providing therapy in Roseville and Fair Oaks.
If you’re struggling, we’d love to hear from you. We’re happy to share how we can help.
Therapy in Roseville, CA, Fair Oaks, CA, or Online in California:
If you are ready to change your life for the better, we can help. To begin therapy at our Sacramento area locations or online, follow these steps:
- Contact the Relationship Therapy Center and schedule a free 20-minute phone consultation to learn more.
- Meet with one of our talented therapists
Services Offered at The Relationship Therapy Center in California:
Our Sacramento area counseling clinics located in Roseville and Fair Oaks, CA are pleased to offer a variety of mental health services. Our couples services include: Couples Counseling, Counseling after infidelity, sex therapy, co-parent counseling, family therapy, divorce counseling, intensive couples retreats, and premarital counseling. Our individual therapy services include, anxiety treatment, therapy for children, teen therapy, depression treatment, and individual relationship counseling. Our therapists offer online counseling in California to treat a variety of mental health concerns. Please reach out to our Sacramento area therapy office to learn more about the many ways we can help you or your loved ones.