What do you look for in a therapist?
I spent my Sunday afternoon at Toms Tap and Brewhouse taking part in their first Bottle share. It’s a great way to learn more about different beer styles and to try things that you might not have got to otherwise. As we sat round sharing what we could taste in the different beers and noticing how the tastes changed as they warmed up, I thought about how useful it would be to have something similar for therapists. A space to try out different ways of working with different people, to figure out what is most helpful for us.
Unfortunately, there isn’t an equivalent ‘therapist share’, the only way to truly know if someone is right for you is to spend some time working with them, but there are things you can do to help you make an informed choice. Look at their website and social media this will often have more information than a page on a directory. If they write a blog read a few entries, have a look at the topics they cover. I, and many other therapists, also offer a free initial telephone consultation for all perspective clients so they have an opportunity to ask questions about me and how I work before committing to sessions. You might even come armed with specific questions to help you figure out if you will work well with someone, like their experience working with specific communities or issues.
In some ways, working as an integrative therapist does allow for some different experiences within a single therapeutic relationship, just as some of the beers gave different experiences over time. Because my work is client led it means there is the opportunity to try different ways of working within sessions. I often tell new clients that it might take a bit of time to figure out how we work best together and that this might change over time as they do and their needs change. While I know that I will usually choose, something dark and delicious, occasionally I have been known to have a pale or a Saison, although you won’t get me near an IPA, the same goes for different types of therapy. And of course, what is familiar and comfortable isn’t always what I need, even if it is what I want.
I feel like every time I dip into therapy, I learn more about what is and isn’t helpful and important to me so that next time I can make an even better choice. A bit like beer tasting, each one helps me understand my palate better so I can choose the one that is right for me at the time.
I’d love to know what would be top of the list of things you are looking for in a therapist.