What is good therapy? What makes a good therapist?
As a licensed therapist, one of my goals is to ensure that my clients get the most of out of therapy. After all, they are paying for it and their desire to make changes in their life has brought them to therapy in the first place. It is my goal to make therapy the best experience they can have. I want each client to feel like they got their money’s worth and look forward to each weeks session. When you live a life that is congruent with your values and that brings you satisfaction and meaning each day, there is no dollar value to that. Most therapists adopt typical approaches and values that essential for good therapy like being nonjudgmental, practicing good listening and not pushing their own values onto their clients. Other than these ones that are a given, here are the elements that incorporate in my life and in therapy, to help make sure my clients get the most out of their experience.
- I go to therapy – It may seem strange to some, but I attend therapy. Whenever I’m having difficulty resolving the issues in my own life, I seek out a therapist. I am a person, I am a human being; I have problems, faults and shortcomings just like everybody else. As a therapist, some people almost seem to expect me to not be human and not have problems. But believe me, I do and so do all the other therapists out there. I disagree with the idea that I think my clients would benefit from therapy but I won’t. And along with that…
- I work on fixing myself – I like the metaphor and philosophy that if a mechanic has no idea how to fix his own car, why on earth would I want him to fix mine? I work hard to build a life that would make me jealous and be the kind of person that faces their inner demons, works on their problems and becomes a healthy person. I will admit, this is a painful process sometimes but I know when I get to the other side, my life will be so much better. Because I’ve made those steps, I believe I’m in a good position to help you make them too.
- Good therapy happens when I have a positive relationship with you – Carl Rogers was a psychologist who is considered to be, by many, the most profound and influential figure in psychology and therapy since Sigmund Freud. I happen to be one of those therapists. Carl’s style of therapy was holding an unconditional positive regard for his clients. He believed that a positive relationship was the number one element to facilitate positive change and I happen to agree with him. When a person comes to me for therapy, that is my first goal, to establish a positive relationship with my client.
- Be honest and authentic – People can tell when you’re being fake with them, when you’re pretending to like them; and they hate it. One of my goals is to be authentic with people, I want to be genuinely caring and engaged with that person. Being honest means a couple of things to me. Not only does it mean just telling the truth but to me it also means that I am going to tell you the truth, even when it is uncomfortable and unpleasant. Because I have unconditional positive regard, I’m going to deliver it in a way that is kind and compassionate. My clients are paying too much for me to not point out their destructive habits.
- I’m directive – What does this mean? This means I am going to direct you to things that are going to help you resolve the issues in your life. If you’re bipolar disorder is not being managed, I’m going to push you to medication. If you’re struggling with addiction, I’m going to push you to fill your life and time with things that will move you away from what you are addicted to. I have built my experience up to know what helps fix problems and what makes them worse; I am going to push you to things that will help the problem. Many therapists expend a lot of energy to remain utterly neutral in your problems. I’ve had therapists do this to me and I find the process to be frustrating. After I listen to you and understand the full nature of the problem, I will help direct you to solutions. Keep in mind too that you are you’re own person and you are allowed to completely disregard everything that I say and I won’t be upset or offended.
- I help you build autonomy – I want you to learn to be your own therapist. I want you to learn to be confident in finding solutions in your life. I will help you find the answers that are in you when you didn’t know they were actually there. Helping people be confident in their own decision making is an invaluable service.
- I trust my gut – Over the years I have learned to trust my gut. I have seen thousands of people over the years and after awhile you start to see patterns. The best feedback I have gotten from my clients is when I have trusted my gut, my intuition, about them and acted accordingly. If my gut is confused, which it sometimes is, I allow it take a back seat and seek more understanding.
- I tailor make a therapy approach for you – Every person is completely unique, it’s important to give them a unique approach in therapy. Sometimes I like to think of people like a safe, each has it’s own unique combination. When you discover the right combination to it, you can’t then take that same combination to every safe and expect it to work. Some people have very complicated and elaborate combinations while other people have relatively simple ones. Neither is wrong or bad; providing good therapy is knowing what combination will help that person.
I will be the first person to tell you that there are good therapists and there are bad therapists and if the therapist you have is not helping you, don’t hesitate to find a new one. If this article resonates with you, then I hope that you will seek out a therapist who has these qualities. Don’t hesitate to ask them about their experience, background and therapy philosophy. I truly want you to get the most out of your therapy experience.
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