Ever feel like you’re on this journey alone?
I’ve had numerous clients tell me how their previous counselors were not very helpful; how they felt judged or humiliated, or even taken advantage of. You should never feel alone when in therapy. Your therapist is there to help you, guide you, listen to you, and most of all accept you. None of us are without blame or fault and all of us have limitations. I tend to tell my clients that we are all crazy, so really, none of us are because it’s normal to be all messed up.
Some characteristics to look for in a psychotherapist include empathy, warmth, compassion, unconditional positive regard, and knowledge.
Empathy: You know they really care and they really understand even if they haven’t been in the exact same situation. They can share in your feelings with you no matter how scary. Making you feel not so alone.
Warmth: They really listen. None of this looking at the computer, talking to you with their back to you. I mean really listening. It might even be awkward. Having someone finally listen to you the way you need to be listened to. You can feel their attentiveness, the warmth in their eyes, you can tell they really care about you.
Compassion: You can tell they have true concern for you, your suffering, and your personal growth. You can tell they want to see you succeed.
Unconditional Positive Regard: There is good in all of us. No matter what evils we have done or believe we have committed. We all deserve to feel loved, cared for, and accepted. Your therapist should convey this to you and be comfortable with who you really are no matter who that is.
Last words: Your therapist should have the ability to accept their own limitations, faults, and apologize for anything they may do wrong. Humbling themselves in front of you because they know you are a real person, with real feelings, and needs. We all make mistakes. Being comfortable with your therapist enough to correct them if they are wrong and knowing they’ll accept that and apologize brings you both one step closer to a real therapeutic relationship. With this, they should also be very in depth of their own practice. They should have confidence in their modality and convey that to you. They can trust their practice so you can trust them, installing hope for the future. Furthermore, accepting their limitations means staying within their own scope of practice and referring you to someone who can really help if they cannot.
For further reading:
Whitbourne, S. K. 13 Qualities to Look for in an Effective Psychotherapist.