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As a therapist, I often wonder what might be good content for people who are considering therapy, but haven’t made up their mind yet. So I asked friends and colleagues what questions they might have, but never dared to ask a therapist. This is the first of these questions which will be an ongoing series of articles. I hope you find this blog post informative and helpful.

Question 1 from Anna (pseudonym): “Sometimes therapists can be a bit fundamentalist by acting like therapy is scientifically definitive. Therapy might not be right for everyone. How could you tell you are ready for therapy? What are the signs that it may not be right for you? How do you choose a therapist that will work well with you?”

First I want to say, that I am guilty of drawing from science quite a bit. What I don’t like about this is that I may create the impression that evidence is definite. Different people respond differently to therapy and it is often a complex task for people who seek therapy to find out with whom they may work well.

How could you tell you are ready for therapy?

Therapy needs the right setting, approach, therapist and time. If one of these dimensions is off, therapy might not work out and that has nothing to do with you personally. For example, I work online, my emphasis is on the relationship between you and me in the here and now and how your body responds as we meet. This works well for most of my clients. However, some clients who I met for an introductory session simply preferred a different style and I appreciate them seeking another practitioner who’s approach meet their needs. Also, therapy needs time, commitment and a routine. If you are ready to put in the work by attending your sessions on a weekly basis, you are ready for therapy.

What are the signs that therapy may not be right for you?

Don’t be disheartened if therapy doesn’t work out at first. A major factor in improving therapeutic outcomes is the therapeutic relationship between client and therapist. Many people who are going through a difficult time, lose their hope. They may have developed beliefs along the lines of “I can’t trust anyone” or “people will hurt me/disappoint me/reject me”. The stronger these beliefs are the less likely people seek therapy, because the fear of another disappointment is so great that reaching out for support seems impossible. Sometimes a supportive friend or partner can help to overcome this fear of another disappointment and help you reach out to a therapist.

How do you choose a therapist that will work well with you?

All therapists are trying their best to attune to their clients and really understand what you might be going through. Sometimes, this doesn’t work out immediately or needs a bit of time. For clients, however, one experience of a miss-attuned therapist can exacerbated their problem and leave them feeling nobody will understand them. Here are some questions to think about when you try a session with a therapist:

  • Did the therapist help you to manage the stress during the session?
  • Did you feel the therapist empathised with you?
  • Did they listen attentively?
  • Were they supportive and kind?

If you tried a few sessions and you didn’t ‘click’ with the therapist, I suggest to try another therapist with a different approach or style. Sometimes it takes one or two attempts before you find the right therapist.

If you have a similar question, please drop me an email. Your question might be relevant to other people who are looking for therapy but didn’t have the courage to contact a therapist yet.