Psychotherapy’s benefits & the right therapist for you are crucial concepts. When people call me to set up an initial session I recommend that they interview me as well. In other words, they are encouraged to ask me questions in the service of helping them determine if I am a “good fit” for them. It’s one of the things I do to help develop what psychotherapists call a “working alliance,” which is essentially team building.
Many resources exist to help you know how to determine a good fit. You will want to read the following article, it has good advice for those in therapy or thinking of engaging a therapist: To Reap Psychotherapy’s Benefits, Get a Good Fit .
If we’re not a good fit one or the other of us know pretty quickly, sometimes even in that first call. It could be for all kinds of reasons; I may not have the expertise they are looking for, my office location or schedule may be prohibitive, they’d rather see a male therapist, or something else. Sometimes it is more difficult to identify when the lack of fit has more to do with that “je ne sais quoi” of personality, approach, or style.
Psychotherapy’s Benefits & the Right Therapist for You
A good therapist is one who makes every effort to hone many skills. Not any one skill will fit every person who comes for help. We carry many tools in our tool kit. A professor in graduate school said, “If you only have a hammer all you see is nails.” Even if we only treated one person, as that person progressed through therapy their needs will change. So must the therapist’s interventions change.
So what happens when I don’t have the tool my patient needs? Often I go to a colleague for peer supervision. Sometimes I will read on the subject or go to a continuing education workshop. Once in a while the best answer is to suggest a consultation with another professional.
The concept of counter-transference complicates this decision for the therapist. We need to be good and sure we aren’t pushing our patient away simply because we are frustrated, or because something about them irritates us. That something has more to do with who we are rather than the problem the client brings to us.,
This is probably more information than you ever wanted so I’ll stop now. Let me just say that being a good therapist requires quite a bit of juggling, balancing, and constant assessment– not only of the patient but of ourselves. Consequently, to achieve that, our education and training never stops. That’s what makes us professionals.