The Right Therapist

At the end of the first session, you know you are with the right therapist / marriage counselor when:

  • You feel hope
  • You feel safe
  • You feel heard
  • You feel respected
  • You feel like the therapist ‘gets’ you
  • You feel like the therapist has helped your partner ‘get’ you
  • You feel like the therapist ‘gets’ your partner
  • You feel like the therapist has helped your partner ‘get’ you
  • You feel like the therapist has asked insightful questions
  • You feel pushed to take an emotional risk that you might not have taken on your own
  • You recognize how your partner is being pushed to take an emotional risk that he might not have taken on his own
  • You appreciate the therapist’s style of guidance
  • You are comfortable with the direction that this therapist is asking you and your partner to go
  • You feel like you have just met your long lost best friend
  • The therapist has demonstrated in session that she / he has the skills and knowledge necessary to help you achieve your goals
  • You can afford your therapist’s price
  • Your therapist is located close (but not too close) to where you live / work.

Then you are with the right therapist!

If you walk out of the first session and answer no to many of the above questions, you may be with the wrong therapist. Listen to your gut.  A good therapist (which is slightly different than the right therapist) will never take it personally if you do not return. A good therapist will always have a full schedule of clients who truly do feel a connection with him or with her.  Thus, their livelihood is not dependent upon you.  Your job as the client is to work on your goals. You are not responsible for the therapist’s feelings.  A well adjusted therapist will happily provide you with referrals to other competent therapists for you to test out.   And remember, therapists do not enjoy working with clients who are just ‘humoring’ them. Therapists do this job because they believe in the transformative powers of therapy.

Finding the right therapist is a combination of finding a therapist, whose location and price work for you, and finding a ‘good’ therapist, whose style is right for you.

Knowing when you have found the right therapist can be hard.  Sometimes it is hard to recognize your own feelings.  Like dating, knowing who is a good fit can be a bit challenging.  If you are in this situation, we at the Center for Growth / Sex Therapy in Philadelphia strongly encourage you to slow down and give yourself permission to compare people.  Make two additional first sessions with different therapists and compare all three of their styles. Try to choose two very different therapists; different theoretical trainings, styles or at the very least very different ages.  A sixty year old therapist who has been in the field for forty years and raised a family will likely see the world differently than a thirty year old therapist who has been practicing three years, and is single. After having all three first sessions with qualified therapists you will be in a much better position to answer the ultimate therapy question “is it me that is simply uncomfortable with the idea of therapy, or is my discomfort stemming from the connection that I have with the therapist”

You will know it’s You and your personal issue (discomfort, anger, insecurity etc) with therapy if all three therapists leave you with the same feeling. Maybe they all say the same thing to you and your partner. Maybe you feel like all three therapists sided with your partner. Maybe you were frustrated with all three therapist’s style. In this case, pick the therapist that you and your partner feel like is the best fit.

Similarly, if you have a strong positive reaction to one of the therapists, and not all of them, then you will know your initial issue with the therapist was real. The problem was the “Therapist”, not “You”.

Good therapy is 30% technique and 30% charisma and 40% skill. Sometimes even skilled, knowledgeable therapists are simply not going to be the right fit because of personality clashes.

Finding the right fit is worth shopping for. Not every therapist is going to be a good match. Your life is worth it. Take the time to invest in yourself. “Choosing a Therapist”.