So you found a therapist – congratulations!
It’s refreshing to see more and more people reaching out to a mental health professional, whether it’s to help them cope with something challenging or to learn better ways of managing stress, anxiety and depression (among other things). Like your physical health, your mental health deserves professional help when performing less than optimally.
Mental health professionals, whether counsellors, psychologists or psychiatrists, thankfully do not administer a one-size-fits-all approach. After all, people are diverse, and their issues and concerns are similarly varied. Therefore, you would best serve each person by finding the right therapist to offer you the best treatment option(s); that process might require a little trial and error.
Here’s how you can tell if a therapist is the right fit for you.
Your therapists listen more than they talk
No matter how well-trained they may be, mental health professionals can only provide adequate support if they fully understand the issues. That’s why the person you speak to must be an excellent listener.
You might be eager to get a professional diagnosis for peace of mind, but a great therapist will take their time getting to know you and your concerns. You can also expect structured assessments before any therapist gives you a label.
Here’s why. Labels are only necessary to allow your mental health support team to offer you the most effective treatment/support plan. So if you ever find yourself eager to get a diagnosis, know that your mental health professional is not in that same hurry. The right therapist is more concerned with identifying your issues to ensure you have the best support options, and labels be damned!
Your therapist uses evidence-based therapies
Evidence-Based Therapy (EBT), more broadly referred to as evidence-based practice (EBP), is any therapy shown to be effective in peer-reviewed scientific experiments.
According to the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies, evidence-based practice is characterised by an “[a]dherence to psychological approaches and techniques based on scientific evidence”. The push towards EBT in psychology aims to track the efficacy of treatment plans to provide clients with treatments that have solid evidence backing their effectiveness, i.e. “does it work?” and “how well does it work”?
Here are some evidence-based therapies your therapist might employ:
- Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)
- Exposure Therapy (ET)
- Motivational Interviewing (MI)
- Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT)
- Assertive Community Treatment (ACT)
- Functional Family Therapy (FFT)
Need help determining which EBT your therapist is using? - Ask!
You have a right to know about your treatment plan, and you’re encouraged to read more about it to understand your sessions better. That said, a good therapist will not rush your treatment, but if something is not working, they (like you) should stay open to alternative forms of support.
Your therapist challenges you
You might have already heard that therapy can be challenging. You must work when you’re trying to unpack trauma, challenge triggers, learn better-coping mechanisms, and promote your personal growth. That sometimes means doing complex reflections with your therapist as a guide.
Your therapist will inevitably want what’s best for you, but that does not mean they won’t challenge you. If your therapist can pose deep questions or offer de-escalation exercises to help your mental state without making you feel guilty, embarrassed or hurt, you’ve found a keeper!
While most one-on-one therapy sessions are scheduled time slots, needing (and getting) support doesn’t always conform to those structured opportunities.
If your mental health professional is available to you without needing an appointment, or better yet, if they proactively check in on you, you’re in luck. Shorter, periodic check-ins have proven more effective than rare drawn-out sessions, so if your therapist is available through, say, in-app chat, take the time to do a status check, even if everything is fine.
So what should you do if you haven’t found “the one” therapist?
Simple! Keep looking.
Believe it or not, there’s a therapist for everyone, and if you don’t think you and your current therapist are the perfect match, that’s OK. It’s very common to speak to multiple practitioners before finding someone just right. You owe it to yourself to find someone who can support you, validate you, and improve your condition.
This article is brought to you by Naluri Mental Health Coaches. Naluri empowers you to develop healthy lifestyle habits, achieve meaningful health outcomes, and be healthier and happier through personalised coaching, structured programmes, self-guided lessons, and health tools and devices. Download the Naluri App today or contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on utilising digital health coaching and therapy to become a happier, healthier you.