There are some circumstances where a client should find a new therapist. And by therapist I mean a mental health therapist. I understand how difficult it is being a client in a new therapeutic relationship. There’s all that talking; bringing up the past, bringing up the present, talking about fears for the future. It’s hard. It’s tiring. And when you think you’ve shared it all… your therapist wants clarification. They ask you questions because in order to understand you properly, in order to tailor a treatment approach to you specifically, they need to know you as an individual. Each person has strengths, weaknesses, and quirks. And your therapist should be very sensitive to those.
Every therapeutic relationship is different. Some clients like a direct, confronting approach; others prefer a casual talk-therapy approach. It all depends on the client. But some therapists make outright mistakes in sessions. Sometimes they’re aware of it, sometimes they’re not. Mostly, therapists stick to their ethical guidelines, seek supervision in difficult cases and keep up-to-date with industry standards. This is a good thing. Regardless, each therapist has their own approach to providing therapy and for you, the client, sometimes you need to make a decision about what kind of therapy or therapist, is right for you.
So to avoid investing all that time into the wrong therapist. Here are some warning signs your therapist is not a good fit for you. Some of these are fun, and I hope you’ll take them as such:
Therapists aren’t allowed to have favorite clients. Nope. All therapists must remain objective and give the same basic types of attitudes to every single client, such as:
In fact if your goal is to impress your therapist, you might want to rethink why you’re in therapy in the first place. Therapists have flaws, and are just as human as the rest of the population…unless you’re an academic psychologist, those guys are just weird. I’m joking.
So, here are three things that impress me as a counselor. And I’m sure they’d impress other therapists too. Now, before I give you this list, I want to make sure that you know that I accept that all my clients have strengths and weaknesses. I accept that they have good days and bad days. I accept that it takes time, dedication and patience for a client to learn and develop new skills and new ways of thinking. It’s a process, and that process is delicate. But despite those facts, there are still things clients can do to help the therapeutic process.
Here’s my list:
Let’s start with a story, it goes like this…
Once upon a time there was an overworked, stressed out modern day person, and that person was you! And that person became a victim of a spiral. The Spiral!
You know what I mean, right? Oh, yes you do. The Spiral is that downward plummet towards depression/anxiety. It’s that sneaky feeling that slowly creeps into your life. It makes you think irrational thoughts that seem reasonable…at the start it’s trying to be subtle:
‘I should have listened more.’
‘I always mess that up.’
‘Life is hard.’
‘Other people can do this, why can’t I?’
Usually, you recognize these types of thoughts are unhelpful and let them slide, but not today, today you listen to them.
My personal stance on taking medication for illnesses like depression and anxiety tends to change from client to client. For some clients I suggest they might find medication useful. For instance, a client that is debilitated by depression and anxiety to the point where they don’t even want to try therapeutic techniques, needs pharmaceutical help. A client that seems to be functioning well intellectually and shows motivation to change and has the internal and external ability to do so, would probably be more likely to benefit from a Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) approach.
(Teenagers may disregard this section)Sometimes, clients come to me with symptoms that they don’t think are serious, but are. One of those is oversleeping. We live in a fast paced society that encourages our attention to flicker from one thing to another. In order to adapt, we process small, but numerous chunks of information at any one time. With a brain that is constantly engaged, it makes sense that when bedtime comes around, our brains have problems shutting off.