by Jennifer Francke
Find the Right Fit
Did you know the quality of the therapeutic relationship is the primary predictor of positive outcomes in psychotherapy? It is not necessarily the therapist’s educational background or credentials they hold, the theories they choose to utilize, or even the number of hours they’ve logged that generate the best outcome, but rather the quality of the relationship that has the biggest impact. So, what does all of this mean for you? It means that finding the right fit in a therapist is very important.
Listen to Your Gut
We begin forming impressions of others within seconds of meeting or speaking with someone for the first time, and this includes with your therapist. You will likely make the decision to return to a second therapy appointment by the time the initial one has ended. Some questions you may ask yourself when deciding whether to keep your therapist, or keep looking, may include:
- Did I feel welcome and comfortable in the office space?
- Did the therapist seem genuinely interested in hearing my story?
- Did I feel better at the end of the session as compared to when I first came in?
- Did the therapist provide me with a sense of hope?
- Did the therapist seem knowledgeable and were they able to convey that to me?
Listen to your gut and trust your instincts. Not every therapist will be the right fit for you and that is perfectly fine. The initial appointment can sometimes feel rushed or even intrusive as there is typically paperwork which needs to be completed in addition to information gathering. That said, you will have formed an initial impression by the end of the first session and the therapist who may work well for you will have left a positive one.
Attributes of the Therapist
Therapists who are successful in conveying attentiveness, empathy, authenticity, compassion and warmth will leave you feeling hopeful and maybe even a bit lighter. Simply expressing some of the issues you are struggling with to an engaged and genuinely interested person will, often times, bring a sense of immediate relief. Following your initial appointment, ask yourself what attributes you noticed about your therapist to help you determine if they are right for you.
Attunement, Attachment and Presence
In order to form a secure attachment relationship, which is the goal in the therapeutic relationship, we enter into a process of attunement with the other person. We feel seen, we feel heard, we feel cared for, we feel a resonance. We know we’re ‘tuned in’ to the other person because we can feel it. The therapist is present with me and I am present with them. This can become a powerful tool for healing, and for positive change. It can also bring to the surface all kinds of discomfort or even ugly memories from the past, especially if you have a history of difficult experiences in childhood. An attuned therapist is aware of this and they are prepared, should it arise. A truly present therapist will demonstrate openness and curiosity about your reaction(s) to them, and to the relationship. They will encourage you to speak more about it and they will help you process it. It is all information and it is good information to have.
I hope this short blog found you well and good luck on your therapeutic journey.