When it comes to therapy, it is crucial to find a good therapist. You must find a therapist you will feel comfortable talking with because you will share uncomfortable thoughts and stories. The therapist will hear things that you have never told anyone before. Therefore, you must be completely comfortable and open with your therapist. If you seek a therapist at an online platform, you will find plenty of therapists because of the current pandemic situation. Therefore, it might be tricky to plan. So, we have compiled some strategies that should assist you in finding the best therapist for you.
Why is it Vital to Find a Good Match?
You may get recommendations from a friend regarding a therapist, telling you that this specific therapist has worked wonders with him. While recommendations are great, it does not mean that you will get the same results. For the therapy to be effective, you must feel comfortable and connected with the therapist. For example, if you feel that the therapist will judge you, you might not be able to talk freely, and you will apply filters when you speak, which will deem the therapy ineffective. The relationship between therapist and patient is so crucial that it has its own term, which is “Therapeutic Alliance.”
What Does Therapeutic Alliance Mean?
One of the first researchers to put effort into examining the therapeutic alliance and its effect was Edward Bordin. His research showed that the therapeutic alliance is not only the bond between the therapist and the patient. It also includes the mutual agreement on the therapy’s goals and the methods to achieve these goals. Various research studies reinforced the concept that the relationship between the patient and the therapist, the “therapeutic alliance,” is vital to the treatment’s success. To stress that fact, the APA formed a task force to see the most effective therapy type. The research showed that the therapeutic alliance is more important than the therapy type.
What Factors Should You Consider When Picking a Therapist?
It is you who should decide which factors you should consider when picking a therapist. These factors can include the following:
- Religious Beliefs
Therefore, online therapy platforms will always ask questions about these points when it comes to your preferences in picking the therapist. For example, you might feel that you can connect with an older woman easier than a young man. On the other hand, some might feel better talking to someone in their own age and gender. Maybe you would want someone who shares the same religious beliefs because you want to bring God into the therapy. In short, it all depends on our preferences and who you think you would feel comfortable talking to during the treatment.
You should also check the bio that each therapist usually presents. You will be able to know more about the therapist, which should help you decide. Of course, the therapists will not share a lot about their personal lives, but they will share their credentials and a few basic facts about who they are.
Understanding the Different Credentials
Therapists will boast their credentials, and you will see a lot of initials after their names. It can be confusing to understand these initials. Some of the most common credentials are:
- NCC (National Certified Counselor)
- LCSW (Licensed Clinical Social Worker)
- Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy)
- PsyD (Doctor of Psychology)
- LMHC (Licensed Mental Health Counselor)
- LPC (Licensed Professional Counselor)
These initials are the basic ones as they come in different variations depending on the state, the credentialing system, and the licensing board. It is vital to check if the therapist is a licensed professional and strictly follows the guidelines and ethics code. For your therapist to get their credentials, they will have to meet all of the requirements and pass the tests required by the local state board. These credentials mean that they have acquired the stamp of approval and are competent to provide you with their service. It also means that they follow the strict confidentiality and ethical codes set forth by their respective state board and licensing organization.
What Questions to Ask the Therapist Before the First Appointment?
While reading their bio and any reviews is helpful, nothing will make you know the therapist better than talking with them first. Therefore, you should always have a quick call with the therapist before the first appointment. First impressions matter, and therefore that call will give you an indicator of whether you made the right choice or not. After some introductory small talk, you should ask the therapist a few questions. These questions can include:
- How do they conduct their treatment?
- How do they help people who want to achieve the same goals as you?
- How do they help patients get comfortable during therapy?
- Have they helped people with similar cases?
These are only a few questions, as you should add your own. Ask them any question that pops in your mind, because therapists are more than willing to open up and answer anything. So, don’t hold back and ask away.
What to do if you are not happy with your Therapist?
If you feel that you are not comfortable with your therapist and that it was not a good match, you should act. It does not matter whether it is the first appointment or the tenth; you can change the therapist at any time when you feel like it. On the other hand, if you have been with the therapist for a good while, you may want to discuss it first and explain why you do not feel connected. It might feel uncomfortable or awkward, but do not fret; therapists get into that conversation often. They can address what is causing the lack of connection. That is not all, as if the issue cannot be fixed, they can even help you find someone who is a better match, after understanding why you feel that way.
It works the same way if you are getting therapy online. With a few clicks, you can ask for a new therapist. Most platforms will ask for feedback to understand why you feel that way. They will use the information to improve their service and to be able to find a better match on their platform.
Most importantly, do not feel awkward about changing therapists, and go ahead with it if you think you need to do it. Sometimes, for numerous reasons, the therapist and the patient just do not have the necessary connection. To take full advantage of your therapy, you should always feel comfortable and connected with your therapist.