The Therapist Dilemma: 4 Signs That Indicate Your Therapist Is a Right Fit

The Therapist Dilemma: 4 Signs That Indicate Your Therapist Is a Right Fit

Health & Wellness
Reading Time: 3 minutes

Mental health issues are taking the spotlight in the 21st century. As more people are coming forward with their stories, spreading awareness, and getting the psychiatric services that they need, there arises another dilemma–and that is getting appropriate treatment, or the right therapist, for that matter. What signs indicate that your therapist is a right fit?

Mental health treatment is something very personal. Unlike many physical ailments that can be cured using a protocol of medications, the management of depression, anxiety, or other mental health disorders is often varied for each individual.

Why is this so? We see this common trend in psychiatric facilities, mental health clinics, as well as rehab centers for alcohol and drugs. The motto always, and has been, “There is no one-size-fits-all approach to mental health treatment”. The primary reason for this highly varied approach to mental illnesses is the myriad of causes as well. Some people are affected by trauma while others may have a genetic predisposition that contributes to their mental illness. Others may have hormonal imbalances and environmental factors that trigger mental illness. It is crucial to understand that with each cause, there is a specific line of care.

Within the sub-scope of mental health and addiction treatment options, there’s counseling and psychotherapy. Although the same principles are applied by many therapists, it is also important that the “way” they implement these techniques work for you. Thus, you will want to know if their personality, style, and rapport are the right fit for you. Here are four signs you should keep in mind to know if your therapist is the right fit.

1. There are boundaries between your relationship.

Even if your therapist has a fun personality that you can get along with, it is good to find a therapist who knows their professional boundaries. The problems with developing a closer relationship other than a patient-therapist one are biases and blurred judgments.

The main goal of your therapist is to improve your mental health condition. They are not there to directly assist you in personal matters, but they can indirectly help as you deal with these problems using the techniques they tell you about.

2. They perform evidence-based strategies.

Even if most psychotherapies are “talk therapies,” the sessions should be grounded on discussions and strategies that work according to science. Before signing up for counseling or other therapy-related services, you can ask for more information about the techniques they use, and what your therapists’ sources are. As a patient or a client, you have the right to know about the treatments you’re taking. Some of the more well-known evidence-based psychotherapies include:

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
Exposure Therapy (ET)
Motivational Interviewing (MI)
Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)
Assertive Community Treatment (ACT)
Functional Family Therapy (FFT)

If you find that your therapist mentions any of these or other evidence-based mental health therapies, then you are in good hands. It is also helpful to read up on the techniques that your therapist will be implementing during your own sessions.

3. They know how to communicate.

A great therapist is someone who understands the value of communication. During the treatment services contract, the therapist will indicate the ways they will try to communicate with you in times of need.

These routes can include calls, e-mails, or instant messages within a secure and professional platform. A therapist who genuinely cares about your welfare will respond promptly and appropriately in these avenues. They will listen, help you process, and give responses that can help you de-escalate thoughts and feelings that worsen your mental state.

Of course, there will be moments where your therapist may not respond right away to calls or messages, but you should be able to see an overall responsive attitude to your needs.

4. They encourage your confidence and competence.

The reason why people seek mental health services is not to have them forever. If this is the case, then something is wrong with the treatment options you’re using. Thus, a great therapist is someone who encourages you to be gradually independent and competent.

If you are seeking mental health services to relieve anxiety or depression, there should be lesser instances where you’re calling your therapist for help. Research-backed strategies are always underlined with the goal of being functional in terms of your mental state. If you view your therapist as a constant crutch in times of crisis, this may be a bad sign.

Look for a professional who desires you to be a fully functional individual. There’s nothing more damaging than a therapist who ‘keeps’ you in their roster of clients for a different agenda.

Good Therapist vs. Bad Therapist: Your Needs Come First

With these indicators in mind, you can better judge if a therapist is a great fit for your needs. The main idea that undergirds these signs is the therapist’s commitment to their roles and responsibilities as a therapist. Ultimately, it also helps you trust your gut and move on to better services if a therapist doesn’t seem to meet your mental health needs.

Ready to start your search for mental health care? Find a therapist near you.

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Patrick Bailey is a professional writer mainly in the fields of mental health, addiction, and living in recovery. He attempts to stay on top of the latest news in the addiction and the mental health world and enjoy writing about these topics to break the stigma associated with them.