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Finding the “Right” Therapist

“I don’t feel like they understood me.” 

“They were nice, but I didn’t feel like I had a connection with them.” 

“I could tell they wanted to help, but didn’t feel like I was getting anywhere.” 

These are a few common remarks I hear when asking clients why they are in the process of looking for a new therapist. Finding a therapist can be a complicated, confusing and an overwhelming experience. The process alone seems to deter people from trying therapy in the first place. Searching through endless profiles is often the last thing a person wants to do when they are mentally, emotionally and physically not at their best. While the process can be daunting, knowing what you are specifically looking for can help the process significantly. 

After years of engaging in thousands of initial therapy appointments I can confidently say the number one importance in therapy is having a strong relationship. Knowledge, experience and training all play a part in the success you can experience in the therapeutic process. However, despite the therapist’s credentials, building an authentic, safe, and comfortable foundation greatly impacts your ability to open up and make the progress you are seeking. In therapy terms this is known as a “strong therapeutic rapport.” Without therapeutic rapport, client’s often feel misunderstood, unheard or just another client sitting across from the professional. 

Therapy is initially an unnatural relationship. You don’t often meet someone and within the first 30 minutes start telling them the most intimate details and struggles of your life. This is why having a trusting, supportive, and non-judgmental environment is crucial. Relationships take time, which is also true in a therapeutic relationship. You might need a few sessions to feel you can disclose and fully open up. However, feeling a genuine connection from the start can be a good indicator you are investing your time wisely. 

To narrow down what are the most important qualities you are seeking within a therapist, think about what you appreciate in other relationships.

Blue Transparent Circle Do you like when people can call you on your stuff? 

Blue Transparent Circle Do you enjoy someone who can make you laugh? 

Blue Transparent Circle Do you need someone who is excellent at holding space and letting you talk? 

Blue Transparent Circle Do you like feedback and engaging conversations? 

All therapists have different styles and knowing what helps you to feel connected to others can also be utilized to help you identify a therapist who you can feel connected to. 

You’re going to spend a significant amount of time with your therapist. You’re going to share things a majority of people in your life don’t know. Are they someone you feel can relate to you and your experience? Do you feel heard and seen by them? Do you feel it is a safe environment to share your thoughts and feelings? If the answer is no to any of these questions, it might be time to continue the search until you find the “right” match.

Meet The Author

Sarah Freitag, Clinical Supervisor & Clinical Therapist at Sea Glass Mental Health

SARAH FREITAG

MC, LPC, NCC

Meet The Author

Sarah is a Clinical Therapist and Clinical Supervisor at Sea Glass Mental Health. She works with teen and adult populations. Sarah specializes in trauma, anxiety, EMDR, grief and eating disorders.

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