The Top Five Attributes of a Great Therapist


I have been waiting for availability to see the therapist that (on paper) is the best fit for me in my new state of Utah. Finally, that day is tomorrow. I’m really kind of excited because I haven’t had a face to face meeting with my current therapist (obviously) since I moved. We have been doing phone sessions every two weeks. Despite my optimism about the woman I am meeting tomorrow there are always hurdles to finding the perfect fit. That’s what I want to talk about today.

  1. Qualifications!

This seems obvious but even I have seen therapists that were referred to me who were horrible at dealing with my situation. Do a little research. Most therapists have websites where you can look at their bio and see what they have been trained in and what they specialize in. If you have an eating disorder and the bio says they focus on depression and anxiety, you probably want to keep scrolling. Find someone who specializes in what you are going through.

  1. Gender!

Do you have a preference? Who are you most comfortable with? Often women who have been abused by men seek out women to talk to. That’s not me. While the majority of my abusers were men, the one that scared me the most was a woman. My last therapist was the first female therapist that I actively sought out and I still bumped into being triggered by her at times. It’s OK to prefer one over the other and it’s just as fine to be comfortable with both.

 

  1. Location!

Finding someone who is near you makes everything simpler. I have had therapists that were three hours away, two hours away, and ten minutes away. Let me tell you the stress that the drive time adds. I mostly spend the drive to the therapist worrying about what we are going to talk about. Then I usually have a big emotional release after and just need to sleep. Which is of course hard when you have a three-hour drive ahead of you. That said, if the most qualified person is far away you want to decide if the drive is worth it. For me it was!

  1. Environment!

If there are things in your therapist’s office that trigger you, let them know right away! Some doctors will accommodate you by removing those items from the room for your sessions. Or they might take the time to help you get past that trigger. If the entire environment is a trigger for you then that is not going to be a place of healing for you. See if they have another office or find another therapist. It is very hard to work on your issues when you feel terrified the entire time.

  1. Chemistry!

You must have good chemistry with your therapist. This is someone you are going to spill all your worries, fears, hopes, etc. to and if you don’t feel totally comfortable and safe with them they are the wrong doctor for you. Shopping for a new therapist can be hardest because of this. I’ve moved to new towns and met with three to five new therapists, telling each my life story, only to feel like I didn’t have a connection with any of them. This is when I start widening my radius and thinking OK maybe a while in the car isn’t so bad.

When you are able to find all five of these qualities to your satisfaction you are done searching. It can be a stressful process to go through, finding a new therapist, but it will certainly be worth it! Having a therapist (the right therapist) makes such a difference in your quality of life!

Are you looking for a therapist? Are you someone who’s been in therapy a while? Did I miss anything? I would love to hear from you in the comments section! Meet me below, and thanks for reading!


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