Choosing the right therapist is important and often difficult to do. While it’s easy to locate a registered counsellor by doing a quick search online for “therapists in Vancouver” or simply checking the Yellow Pages or a professional association in your area, in actual practice it can be tricky to know if you’ve found the right therapist for your unique needs.
The good news is there are a number of questions you can ask that can go a long way towards helping you find the right therapist.
Research on the effectiveness of therapy has shown the personal qualities of psychotherapists and how well they “fit” with a client can be as important as the type of therapy used to produce a positive outcome. So make sure to ask yourself if your feel comfortable with the therapist in addition to asking them the more typical questions about their approach and experience.
Questions you can ask yourself during your first meeting with the therapist:
What does it feel like to sit with the therapist?
Do you feel safe and comfortable?
Is it easy to make small talk?
Is the person down-to-earth and easy to relate to?
What is the counselor’s general philosophy and approach to helping?
Does your counselor approach human beings in a compassionate and optimistic way?
Questions to ask your therapist:
Can the counselor clearly define how he or she can help you to solve whatever issue or concern has brought you to therapy?
Experienced counselors explain how they can help, are able to give you a basic “road map,” to their approach, and can even give an indication of how you will know when therapy is finished.
Does the therapist encourage dependence or independence?
Good therapy doesn’t solve your problems; it helps you to solve your own. Likewise, good therapy doesn’t soothe your overwhelming feelings; it helps you learn to soothe your own feelings.
Does the therapist have experience helping others with the particular issues for which you are seeking therapy?
The more experience therapists have addressing a particular issue, concern, or problem area, the more expertise they have developed.
Be sure to add any other questions that are important to you and remember, therapy is a process that takes time. Your counsellor should be someone you like and feel comfortable spending time with. Congratulations on taking the first step in the therapeutic process and good luck!