Updated: Feb 10
Lots of therapists make mistakes when giving advice to their clients - here's how to spot a good one...
When you approach a therapist, you might believe that they are going to tell you that you need to behave, feel and think differently in order to get the life you want.
A good one won't.
A good therapist will invite you to work on ideas
A good therapist will encourage you to reveal the skills and abilities you have gained over the years. Even if you don't think you have any, a good therapist aims to tease out the successes you've made in your life and emphasise them to you.
Afterall, isn't that what you've sought out a therapist for?
When you approach a therapist, you have reached a few realisations:
You have acknowledged you need help
You haven't come to this realisation easily
You have built-up enough courage to ask for assistance
You've had to be brave enough to ask another person to guide you through the challenges you face
You have been flexible enough to ask for ideas on how to conquer your fears
It is important that you secure the right therapist for you, one that will be able to help you through these new ways of being.
The adjustments you need to take to get your life back onto the track you want it to be on will be uncomfortable. You need to be able to trust the person who is going to guide you through these uncomfortable sensations.
You could choose a therapist who is either:
qualified with a personal experience of the challenge you have faced, or
gained knowledge through learning how to conquer troubles with tools and methods
Either way, the first thing a therapist needs to ask is:
"What do you want?"
A therapist needs to connect with you. They need to ask you what your idea of therapy is. What you expect from the therapy session and how long the sessions are going to take. You should be able to ask:
"What is expected of me during the sessions?"
Everyone has ideas of how a therapist should be, what they should give you and how they should act towards you. Here's what they are not to let you do:
narrow down issues you are challenged with to well-worn 'labels'
talk yourself into more suffering
stagnate your life for weeks, months or years on end while in therapy
You might be asking for help, simply to gather information so that you can use the tools yourself. When you ask for advice, you are gathering alternative outlooks. You are considering a different viewpoint or perspective.
You are gathering innovative ways of being
You know your life is not going along the track that you want it to and you want help to get it back on track. That's what you've asked a counsellor for help with. You ask a counsellor for
guidance to give you the ability to recognise what's happening
understand what is achievable and
help you learn new skills to get back to the life you want
All this needs a focus on new ideas. New ideas come from someone who has looked outside of the box, from someone who has searched for solutions to suffering and from someone who has the knowledge and resources to persist with getting you through your pain.
A good therapist will have the confidence to put forward ideas that will work for you and your lifestyle. They will be able to reveal to you the way things were in your life, compared to the way things are now and give you ideas that of how things possibly could be in the future.
This comes from knowledge and an innovative mind
A good therapist is able to stand on their own and have confidence in the methods that have learned - especially if they are perceived to be different.
A good therapist should:
forget about themselves, their own ego and gains they personally make
concentrate on what you want, in your way
connect with you at the place where you are coming from
In this way, you are led to succeed in your own life - even when you are outside of the therapy session..
Many counsellors can fall into assuming too much about a person. It's natural to look at a person and make a judgement about their life or the type of personality they have.
These assumptions may not be true.
No one can totally know another person's thoughts, feelings and behaviour just by looking at them.
We are all very different.
Recommendations given to one person may not suit another. A good therapist can help you by asking you questions that are particular to you. Asking questions that gain a deeper perspective of your personal outlook on life.
You may arrive at a therapy session feeling angry, anxious, powerless, frustrated, depressed, but this doesn't mean you don't already have all the ideas on how you would like your life to be. If you remember only one point from this lesson, remember that your brain is a problem solving machine. It knows how to fix the challenges you face. It will work in your favour if you encourage it.
The ideas buried deep in your mind will rise slowly, throughout the sessions with your therapist, and a good therapist will help you approach the issues you're suffering with. You just need to be asked the right questions.
We are more in harmony with our own selves than we really know. It's a therapist's job to help you learn this.
If you should need my help, simply fill in the form on the Contact page and I'll get in touch with you.
Kaye Bewley MA
Kaye is a freelance publisher, author and certified psychotherapist with over three decades of experience. She is also a writer for various blogs about writing, publishing, travelling and health care.
Feel free to visit her BewleyBooks.com site, where you can sign-up to follow her on her various social media platforms.