While several mental health conditions can be managed with psychotherapy, the main problem with this approach is finding the right therapist. Having the right therapist is essential to make progress with psychotherapy. Having a great therapist not only helps you make progress, but it can make or break your motivation for dealing with your mental health. To get the most out of psychotherapy, here are ten things that make a great therapist:
Feedback That is Practical and Emotional
A great therapist should show that they genuinely care about what you are saying. They may provide emotional feedback through facial expressions or verbal expressions of empathy. However, they must do more than simply empathize. A great therapist should also offer practical advice that addresses the situation.
Helps to Guide You
Some people may start therapy without a clear idea of why they’re there or what they are looking to accomplish. This is somewhat normal and your therapist should be able to help you figure that out. A great therapist will ask specific questions to help guide you through your sessions and determine what areas to focus on.
They Should Listen
Your therapist should actively listen when you talk. They show this by either taking notes or being able to easily recall what you talked about in your last session. A great therapist would rarely, if ever, pay more attention to their phone or computer than what you are saying.
In addition to listening to the words you say, they should also be aware of the things you are not saying. A great therapist will observe things like body language, tone of voice, and mannerisms in order to determine your state of mind. They may also be able to point out things to you that you may have never been aware of before.
Experienced in Their Field
First and foremost, your therapist should be a licensed psychotherapist. Beyond that, a great therapist will also stay caught up on the latest psychotherapy techniques in order to best serve their patients. A great therapist should only recommend psychotherapy techniques that have been proven to be effective by research. To keep up on the latest techniques, your therapist may also attend psychotherapy conferences or training sessions for professional development.
Certain mental health conditions, such as depression, can make you feel like there is no hope or no point to anything. A great therapist will be able to restore hope during your sessions. However, this may not happen immediately and it may take some time to feel this way.
A great therapist is one who can present ideas to you clearly so that you fully understand them. This is especially important when they are discussing how certain symptoms can be affecting your behavior or thought processes. In order to make significant changes and reduce symptoms, you must be able to understand how your symptoms are affecting you and how to go about changing this.
Great therapists never use a “one size fits all” approach when treating their patients. Instead, they will take the time to determine what is the best treatment plan for your mental health needs. They will also take into account things like cultural background, familial traditions, religion, and any details that can affect how you view the world.
While you should be able to trust your therapist, ultimately they are not your friend. As such, they should set and maintain boundaries that keep your relationship professional. A great therapist will never overstep personal boundaries, ask you to meet outside of your sessions, or make inappropriate comments that make you feel uncomfortable.
Just as your therapist expects you to be on time for your sessions and cancel with enough notice, they should return the favor. A great therapist should always be on time and should let you know ahead of time if they need to cancel. Additionally, they should be clear about appointment times and may even offer you the same time every week if it works with your schedule.
If you feel your therapist embodies these ten things, then congratulations you have a great therapist! Also since no one is perfect, even if you have a therapist that does 8-9 of these things, they are still a pretty good therapist. However if this does not sound like your therapist at all and you don’t feel like you are making progress, you may want to consider looking for a new therapist. Take this list with you and you’ll be able to find the best therapist for your needs. For more information on finding the best mental health services for your needs, see “The Difference Between Psychology and Psychiatry and Why You May Need Both”.
Dr. Miller is trained in Adult, Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. She is also trained in Anesthesia and Pain Management. Because of her broad experience, Dr. Miller is uniquely qualified to treat psychological trauma, depression and anxiety that can occur as a result of injury or disability. For more information, schedule a consultation at NJ Family Psychiatry & Therapy.