The single-most important factor in choosing a therapist is selecting an experienced professional who understands you in a way you’ve never been understood before. This means someone who is present, calm, attentive, and focused on listening to and hearing you. Someone who says things you wouldn’t think of on your own. You should feel these qualities even in your first consultations.
Other things to keep in mind:
You do want a therapist with good boundaries; a therapist that is ready for your session on time, provides you with a consistent schedule, doesn’t answer the telephone during your sessions, and listens carefully to you – saying something helpful in each of your appointment times.
You don’t want a therapist who uses diagnostic terms to tell you what is “wrong with you,” instead of understanding your symptoms in a compassionate way, unique to you and your history.
You do want a therapist who listens openly and carefully, and is willing to adjust his or her thoughts if you don’t agree.
You don’t want a therapist who makes you feel you or your symptoms are hopeless. Either because they’ve gone on a long time, because of your age, or because of some diagnostic box they’ve put you in.
You do want a therapist who isn’t defensive if you disagree, if you challenge or question them, or if you are angry.
You don’t want a therapist who talks about his or her personal life or is self-preoccupied. Your session is your time; the focus should be only on you.
You do want a therapist who says things that result in a, “Hmmm, I never thought about it that way before. That sounds right to me,” or even, at times, an “AHA! Moment”.
You especially don’t want a therapist who steps over the line in any social or sexually seductive way. That might momentarily feel special, especially if you never do, but it isn’t what you need from a therapist.
You do want a therapist who is fully capable of allowing, meeting openly, and handling comfortably any feeling or fantasy you bring.
Over time, you’ll know you made the right decision when:
- You see your life and your relationships changing
- You see yourself responding in new ways to old situations
- You notice you are less self-critical and much easier on yourself