Background and credentials aren’t the only things to consider when hiring a therapist. There are other key factors to take into account. These factors center on an important piece of the therapeutic puzzle: having a good fit between client and therapist.
“A therapist who is effective and compatible with one person may not be with another person,” according to authors Robert W. Firestone, Ph.D, Lisa Firestone, Ph.D, and Joyce Catlett, MA, in their book Conquer Your Critical Inner Voice.
There is no “best” or “right” therapist in your community. Instead, it’s important to look for the therapist that fits your specific needs and interacts with you in a way that you find comfortable. The quality of the therapeutic relationship is often more important than the specific type of psychotherapy conducted. So it’s important to find a therapist that’s the right fit for you and your specific needs.
The authors suggest asking yourself these questions during and after your first session:
- Did you feel heard by the therapist?
- Did you feel like the therapist respected you?
- Was the therapist condescending?
- Did the therapist seem like a real person or were they playing a role?
- Was the therapist passive or active in the session? What do you like better?
- Does it seem like the therapist will be open to hearing about all your feelings, including frustrated feelings relating to them?
- Did the therapist have a positive outlook on life?
- Did you feel better or worse after the session?
- Did you feel comfortable with the therapist?
- Does this seem like a safe place to express your thoughts, concerns and feelings?
Questions about Therapeutic Approach
Also key is knowing precisely how the potential therapist plans on helping you. The therapist should be trained to helping you be able to come up with a plan for change. Most of the work in therapy is done by the patient, not the therapist. So it’s important that both you and the therapist are on the same page when it comes to goals, priorities, and how to best work toward those goals.
The authors suggest asking the following:
- What do you think is the goal of the therapy?
- What is your approach?
- What methods do you employ?
- What’s the number of sessions you think we’ll need?
- What’s expected from me? (For instance, are there homework assignments?)
As you’re listening to the therapist’s responses, consider if you’re comfortable with what they say. And don’t hesitate to ask any other questions you need to in order to figure out if this therapist is right for you.
While disagreements shouldn’t be deal-breakers, you should be aware that if you’re working with a therapist you’re constantly battling, it may reflect that the therapeutic relationship isn’t a good one and isn’t working for you.
Check out these other pieces on finding a clinician:
- How to Choose a Therapist and Other Frequently Asked Questions Answered
- 10 Ways to Find a Good Therapist
- How Do You Find a Good Therapist? An Interview with Dr. John Grohol
What do you think is key in finding a good fit? What questions do you suggest asking a potential therapist?