How would I know if I have the right therapist?

How do you know you have the right therapist for you?

How would I know how to "train" my therapist to be able to give me what I need from treatment?

Jennifer Molinari
Jennifer Molinari
Hypnotherapist & Licensed Counselor

Finding the right therapist for you is very important and can sometimes be tricky. It can sometimes take a number of sessions to get a good sense of whether you and your therapist are the "right fit."  The first couple of sessions are generally spent on gathering information, formulating a plan of treatment, and building the client/therapist relationship. The client/therapist relationship will be very different from other relationships you have experienced.  You will know you have found the right therapist when you notice there is a good rapport between the two of you.  You will get a sense that the therapist "gets you" and understands the issues being presented. If you feel that you can trust your therapist and feel comfortable opening up and providing feedback during your sessions then you know it is a good fit. 

In terms of "how to train your therapist how to give you what you need from treatment" the therapeutic relationship is collaborative so the two of you will be working together as a team. During your sessions, the goal is for you to feel comfortable giving feedback about what is working and what is not working in your sessions. When you express your needs to your therapist then the two of you will discuss the best ways to get those needs met in order to maximize the effectiveness of your sessions.

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide.   If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.
Ingrid d
Ingrid d'Aquin
I am offering new possibilities in life. I help people find RELIEF and HOPE..

The most important thing is it has to feel right.  While that sounds vague and not very scientific it is the most important part of therapy.  Us counselors call it therapeutic rapport and without it therapy is not very effective.  You want to know you can trust your therapist, that you are not being judged, that they respect your privacy, that you feel comfortable talking to them about the good and the bad.  You want to feel heard and know you therapist is genuine . Not all therapist are a good fit for everyone.  Go with your gut :) As an added note I recommend going with a therapist who has done their own therapy!

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.
Krista Harper, MA, LMFT
Krista Harper, MA, LMFT
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in Georgia and Hawaii

What an important question! I think one of the first things to assess is this: Do you feel comfortable with your therapist? Do you feel like you can talk openly about what's going on in your life without feeling judged? Do you experience your therapy as a safe space to process your thoughts and feelings? Feeling comfortable with your therapist is a crucial factor. 

Once you feel comfortable with your therapist, you can have a conversation about what works for you in therapy. Tell your therapist what is helpful, and what you don't find helpful. A skilled therapist can shift his or her style and techniques to meet your individual needs, and this may be an ongoing conversation that the two of you have during therapy. 

Oftentimes, there is just an X factor between client and therapist that either makes the relationship work or can make it feel like something is missing. This is no one's fault, it's just that not every therapist will be a perfect match for every client. 

If you feel uncomfortable with your therapist or feel like that x factor is missing, it is a good idea to keep searching for therapist who is right for you.

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.
Linda Abdelsayed
Linda Abdelsayed
Change is the only constant in life

This is a great question. Finding the right therapist can be tricky because you don't really know how someone will be like until you meet them. A few ways to prescreen are to:

- Visit the therapist's website, psychologytoday profile, social media, etc...

- Have a phone call with the therapist prior to your first appointment

Once you meet your therapist it is important to be clear with your wishes and expectations. We are trained in helping you thrive in your life but we cannot mind read so if you don't tell us, we won't know. Don't be shy about what you like and what you don't like. A good therapist will listen to your needs, process them with you, and create a customized plan that works for you and your life. A good therapist will also not take anything you say (even criticism) personally. 

Coming to therapy is hard and often times you might not want to go. What makes a good therapist is someone who understands this and tries to make you feel as comfortable as possible while you address uncomfortable topics. 

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.
Fenny Goyal
Fenny Goyal
‘Sahara’ means support and that is what I will do to help you meet your potential

I believe that the right counsellor will help you feel empowered, supported and understood. You should feel comfortable opening up and not be concerned that they will judge you for what you say or decide to do. I find this important to let my clients know during intake that they will never be judged for the decisions they decide to take while going over options in sessions together with me. 

In terms of what you need from treatment, please feel comfortable to open up to your therapist and tell them what you need from them. For example, do you prefer them to challenge you with questions, listen to your story and ask questions throughout or near the end, give you work to do outside of sessions? The therapy sessions will work best for you if you can help them support you in what will work for you.

It can sometimes take a few trials of different therapists to find the right one so please do not give up if you feel disheartened! You should feel proud of yourself for taking the first big step in asking for help, that is not easy to do and you are on the right track already!

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.
The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room. Beginning therapy is a positive step in the right direction so good for you! As far as how one would know if they are seeing the “right” therapist, it would depend on several issues. For starters, does the therapist have a strong background in the area you are experiencing struggles. If the person specializes in LGBTQ issues and you are not seeing them for that purpose, then that might be a problem. Secondly, are you being upfront with the therapist about what is truly going on for you? Honesty is what is needed during session. Lastly, therapy can make one feel uncomfortable. That is, there are times you might walk out of the office and feel as though you revealed “too much” or “cried and didn’t want to”. Be open to the idea that to get through a problem, it will feel uncomfortable but let the therapist know. Hope that helps!
Peter Cellarius
Peter Cellarius
Couples Counseling & Trauma

Such a good question!  Sometimes, clients will feel like they are not connecting with their therapist and will put it on themselves.  In truth, the bond between therapist and client is the #1 predictor of positive outcomes in therapy.  Ask yourself these questions: does it feel like this person can come to care about me?  Do they remember from week to week what we touched on?  Do I feel compassion from this person? Do they allow me my difficult and painful feelings too, or do they try to rescue me?  

On your other question - I suggest you ask your therapist what goals he/she has for your treatment.  See if they respond with interest and participation, or if they become clinical and distant.  Ideally, you and your therapist jointly develop your goals, and check on your progress on a frequent basis.  I don't know if you can actually 'train' your therapist - we can be a hard bunch to train! :-)  - but you can definitely tell your therapist what works for you, and what didn't work, at the end of each session.  How they react will also tell you a lot about whether this is the right person for you.

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.
Stephanie C
Stephanie C
Stephanie C. Mental Health*Addiction Psychotherapist

 This is a great question. There could be a few ways to “know” that you’ve found a good fit and you and your therapist are therapeutically compatible. First, I would recommend listening to your intuition and pay attention to how you feel, if there are feeling-indicators that you are comfortable, feel safe and willing to open up and share your story.  Second, do you feel the therapist you are considering will support and challenge you in ways you need.  Some therapist offers a free consultation.  This might be a good opportunity to take advantage of.


Stephanie C, MA, LADC, LPCC (pre-licensed) 

www.stephanietherapy.com

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.
Sherry Katz, LCSW
Sherry Katz, LCSW
Couples and Family Therapist, LCSW

Good question!

The client's job is to concentrate on stating the details of their problem and to thoughtfully engage in a dialogue about these areas with the therapist.

The most difficult job for a client is willingness to self-examine, hold oneself accountable for relationship and life situations, and honestly feel the difficult, often painful feelings and insecurities which troubling situations create.

The client doesn't train the therapist.

If you feel you are with a therapist who requires you to train them, then politely decline continuing to pay for their services.

Then find yourself a different therapist who feels secure and knowledgeable enough in their skills to not require training by their client.

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.
Laura  Rodriguez
Laura Rodriguez
Online Counselor

Thinking whether or not you have the right therapist can be overwhelming if you are not sure what you want or need. But think of this, you feel safe and comfortable that you share what you’ve never told anybody. You feel understood and listened to. You feel their support.  You trust them. Do you believe they can help you? If you do not, then that might make it hard for you to want to open up.

As far as how would you how to train your therapist to help you. If you know what you need all you have to do is share this with your therapist.  If you don’t know then therapy is a collaborative process so both you and your therapist will work together to figure out your needs and how to best meet them. 

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.
Dawn M. Reilly, Psy.D.
Dawn M. Reilly, Psy.D.
It's never too late

The "right" therapist is a combination of expertise in the areas where you require, and fit as far as how comfortable you feel in speaking and sharing with that person.  People generally are quite good at determining whether or not someone fits well with their personality and style; and another key to know whether therapy is working is to ask yourself:  "Do I see that changes have come about since working with this therapist?"  Do I feel better? Am I reaching goals that I set at the onset of therapy?  Are difficult situations becoming easier by how I handle them? Training a therapist really isn't necessary, as all it requires is open and honest communication in order to give effective feedback that will in turn be helpful to you and your goals.

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.
Michael Greene
Michael Greene
Therapy That Focuses on Root Causes

You have the right therapist if you feel safe with that person. Safety consists of feeling that who you are and what you say is valued. The right therapist is not an 'all knowing person you must obey'. He or she is a person with skilled knowledge who respects you as a partner in your self discovery. The right therapist is also one who is kind

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.
Janna Kinner
Janna Kinner
Flourish Christian Counseling

This is a really important question, because you don't want to waste your time and money with a therapist who is not a good fit for you.  I think the most important factor that makes a good therapist match is trust-- do you trust this person to be able to help you meet your therapy goals?  There are few things you can do upfront to test this out, without spending a dime.  First, ask for personal recommendations from friends or others.  If you know someone who had a great experience with a certain therapist, you'll feel more confident in that person right off the bat.  Second, do your online research.  Google the person's name and read everything you can find.  Many therapists are starting to develop more of an online presence because they know that's a way future clients can develop trust without even stepping in their door.  See if they have a blog, social media posts, or even just read the tone of the content on their website.  This might give you a glimpse of their therapy style.  Finally, you can call or email potential therapists and provide a brief overview of your presenting problem and describe what you're looking for in your ideal therapist.  It sounds like you have a specific idea of what you're looking for... most therapists will be honest if they don't feel they're going to meet your expectations.  Some therapists offer free short phone consultations which can help you both decide if you would work well together.  Do your homework upfront, and you'll be well on your way to finding a great therapist for you!

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.

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