Thoughts From This Therapist: We Don't Have to be a Good Fit
The works in this series will always be the opinion of the writer (me, Rebecca). Therapy and healing is not a one-size-fits-all box, so keep that in mind when reading. Everything in this series will come from my experiences both as a therapist and patient. I hope it gives you insight into different perspectives, and gives me a place to share thoughts on topics I feel are important. Enjoy!
Something that I wish all people knew is that not every therapist is a good fit for every client. As therapists, we each have our own unique style and often a specific focus for our work. This means that not every client-therapist relationship will be the right fit.
So I want to tell you that we do not have to be a good fit, and that is completely alright. Here I will talk about signs that help clue me in to the fit I have with a client. So please read; maybe even take notes to help yourself in your own therapeutic journey.
The first sign for me is why you are seeking treatment. Some clients are seeking treatment in areas that I either don’t have much knowledge in or don’t feel confident working with, for any number of reasons. In these situations, I am very good at explaining that to my clients, and often I will try to refer them to someone else I think may help them more.
If I feel like you are resistant to answering questions, and we’ve met at least twice, I assume that you are probably not comfortable with me. It that case, I also assume you would be aware of your own discomfort, and would be able to recognize this as a sign that it’s not a good match. However, I know it can be hard to express this because you are afraid of hurting your therapist’s feelings, so oftentimes I try to explore the reasoning behind the discomfort, and help you discover if the issue is with fit, or something else.
Most frustrating to me is when clients regularly do not show up for sessions, or are chronically late, especially without warning or notice. This makes it seem like you are not really interested in putting the effort for therapy. More often than not if you feel comfortable with the therapist, you will show up even when you don’t feel like it. So if you are not showing up, that tells me something is going on, and perhaps you are comfortable.
Here are some tips you can use to help you know if it’s a match:
Ask questions! Ask about their style and specialties. It can be helpful if you know what you are looking for when you go into the conversation. If you don’t, that is ok, and you and the therapist can figure it out as you talk.
Think about your beliefs. “Controversial beliefs”, like those surrounding human rights and equality, can be difficult topics, and you might want to have a therapist who you are comfortable addressing those beliefs with. Make sure to talk about it, be open, ask their thoughts, and let them know what you expect when it comes to feeling comfortable and supported.
Gauge comfort level. If you don’t feel sharing your thoughts and feelings with a therapist, it can be a big sign that it’s not a good fit. I always recommend trying it out for about 3 sessions, but sometimes you just know right away that it won’t work. There’s nothing wrong with not feeling comfortable; it simply means you just aren’t a good match, and you can trust your feelings.
Sometimes clients feel like the therapist doesn’t get it or doesn’t have enough experience. As a therapist, I say we don’t usually know someone else’s story, so it’s hard to judge this. But you do want to follow your gut, and if your gut is telling you that this isn’t going to work, then listen. We do not have all the answers or all the experiences in the world, but we do have the training to be able to help you if you feel it will work for you.
With therapist/client rapport there is no magic secret. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. I say trust your gut feelings, and if it doesn’t feel right then say something. We understand that not everyone will feel right working with us and we respect your honesty.
I hope this helps!
Are there other topics you would like me to cover? Any thoughts on this topic? We would love to hear from you! Leave a comment below or find us on social media (@therapeutichealingjourney on Instagram or @llctherapeutic on Twitter).