Making the decision to begin therapy takes a lot of courage. Now that you’ve taken such a brave step and made the decision to attend therapy, you have the task of trying to find the right therapist. Finding the right counselor can sometimes be an ongoing task, especially when your search turns up a plethora of options.
It’s especially hard to choose when you’re already feeling a bit self-conscious about your decision in the first place. Finding the right therapist that meets your unique needs can be overwhelming, but it is possible to find the right person and to feel happy with your choice.
Many people assume that all therapists are alike or have a similar approach to therapy. Therefore, if they’ve had a bad experience in the past, they assume they will have another bad experience. This can make a person less likely to seek out therapy again or continue to struggle alone rather than risk being vulnerable with the wrong person.
But the truth is, there are many different approaches to therapy. Some therapists may come from a Cognitive-Behavioral approach, while others come from a more integrative, holistic approach. Unfortunately, when you assume that all therapists are the same, it can prevent you from seeking help and making the changes you want in your life. Not only does this belief hold you back from seeking counseling, it can also cause you to miss working with the right person who is going to help you achieve the results you are looking for.
Perhaps in your past you had a bad experience in therapy…
At the time you just assumed that this was all a part of the therapeutic process and you had a hard time expressing your concerns with this therapist. There was just no way to open up and feel vulnerable with someone when you were too busy worrying about feeling judged or misunderstood.
This experience may have left you feeling “icky” and trapped. As if there was no way to ever move past what was holding you back if every therapist was going to make you feel the same way. You finally made the decision to end therapy and it’s the reason it took you so long to reach out to try again.
But in the long run, reacting out of fear delayed your chance at finding a sense of peace and healing.
Eventually, lumping all therapists together and choosing not to get help leads you to wind up in a place where you have had enough. It’s hard to move through life with such a cloud hanging over your head, but you don’t trust the therapeutic process enough to reach out to another professional.
The truth is, it’s completely normal to be skeptical about the mental health field. There can be a stigma around seeking help and a lack of factual information about therapists or therapy. Especially with a previous negative experience, it is normal that you feel a little apprehensive about trying therapy again. It’s ok to take your time and create a list of questions to ask your new potential therapist to ensure a better fit.
Remember, each therapist has a different style, and many have vastly different trainings and methods. So, when you’re looking for a therapist, take into account not only therapeutic approach but also the therapist’s outlook. Each of these factors should really resonate with you. Therapy works best when you enter into a positive collaborative relationship with your therapist.
It’s true having a bad experience in therapy can prevent you from trying again. However, there are several things that can help you feel good about going back and seeking help. It is possible to find the right therapist for you and to feel pleased with your choice.
When Your Anxiety About Therapy Prevents You From Reaching Out
It can be really difficult to place your trust in a helping professional and feel let down. After all, it is that person’s job to join you on your journey toward living fully in your truth. However, because there are so many different types of therapists, it is not uncommon to come across one who is a bad fit. This does not necessarily mean they are bad at their job. It just means that their approach was not one that worked for you. The worst thing to do, though, is to let this cloud your opinion on therapy as a whole.
Although the thought of proceeding with therapy again may fill you with anxiety, the biggest downside of not overcoming this fear is you may continue to suffer alone. When you’re in pain, your relationships suffer, and your struggles may seep into other areas of your life such as your career as well. You will have a hard time progressing on goals the way you want. At the very least, you’ll find yourself questioning yourself.
Acting with Apprehension
Despite feeling apprehensive about therapy, it is best to try it again in a way that makes you comfortable. This is the surest way to overcome what’s holding you back in life and to achieve the goals that you want.
You may in fact struggle with moving forward in therapy, but you have the potential to overcome this by reflecting upon what your innermost needs and wants really are. When you do this, you can find the motivation to seek out a therapist who is the right fit and who will help you become the person you’re hoping to be.
10 Questions To Ask A Therapist
#10: How will I know if things are improving for me? By asking this question, you have the opportunity to learn more about what your therapist expects from you. You’ll also be able to understand how they see change and whether or not this will connect with you. What’s great about this question is it allows you two to get on the same page from the beginning.
#9: What makes you different than other therapists? When you ask about what makes this therapist different from another you get a glimpse into their style and to learn why they stand out from others. You will also get a sense of what they are passionate about and dedicated to in their practice of therapy.
#8: Do you think you can help me? This question seems simple, but it is really important. Not all therapists and styles work for everyone. Therapists have different specialties, skills and experience which may or may not work for the issues that are driving you to seek therapy.
#7: What is a typical session like? Do I do work in between sessions? This question allows you to get a better idea of what therapy will look like with this therapist and it will decrease some of the anxiety you feel about returning to therapy. You will be able to imagine yourself in session with this therapist and determine whether this is the place you want to invest in yourself emotionally.
#6: What’s the difference between an integrative therapist and a therapist who focuses on using one type of method? There are different approaches to therapy and an integrative method is one such approach. An integrative therapist will help you feel more whole and increase self-awareness so that you will feel more balanced in your life.
#5: What is the first session like? One therapist might take copious notes and ask a bunch of questions. Another may let you free flow and talk. Each style is different but by asking about the first session, you will be setting yourself up for what to expect. One approach may feel better for you than another and will help you decide if this is the right therapist for you.
#4: Do you have experience with people in my position? When you ask this question you are able to gauge whether you feel comfortable that this therapist knows what they are doing and that they can help you.
#3: What possible approaches might you use for my challenge or situation? By asking this question you will start to see how your therapist plans to help you so that you can determine if you feel confident with their choice of strategy.
#2: Why did you want to be an integrative therapist? Asking this will help you get to know your therapist and start building the relationship which is really key during therapy.
#1: Why do you consider yourself an integrative therapist? This question helps you understand more of your therapist’s approach and how it may differ from another. This also gives you an idea of whether their style will work well with you.
Now here is a little bonus that can really help you to narrow down your choices and pick the therapist that is right for you. These are questions that you ask yourself after you have spoken with a therapist.
- How did you feel when speaking with them? Did you feel relaxed and understood?
- Did you feel rushed or could you go at your own speed when asking questions?
- Did the therapist seem to understand what you were saying, or did they misinterpret your questions?
- Did they constantly ask you to clarify yourself?
- Do you feel like the conversation flowed or did it seem odd and uncomfortable?
- Could you imagine telling your deepest darkest secret to this therapist?
The key component to having a positive therapeutic experience that benefits you and brings you a sense of wholeness and balance inside is the relationship. You need to feel comfortable and safe to explore all parts of yourself with your therapist. Remember, not everyone’s style will be a good fit for you. This is something you should keep in mind when you’re trying to find the right person and these questions are a surefire way to help you get a better idea of what you’re looking for.
To see if I am a good fit for you, please contact me and you can ask any questions you may have about my counseling practice in Simsbury, CT or my telemental health services.