Finding A Therapist

I am really fortunate (and crazy blessed) to be able to do the work that I do. Every day people contact my office inquiring of how to get an appointment. Some of the folks are out of the state and even out of the country. My licensing requirements are that I can only work with clients who are in the state of Texas. Even then, I really prefer counseling sessions that are face-to-face and not on the phone or online. Some counselors do distant counseling and that meets the needs of many people. I just find it more enriching to be in person when walking through different life experiences.

Whether you are in the Dallas/Fort Worth region or across the world, I thought it might be helpful to list out some key highlights when looking for a therapist. Many people know the waste of time it can be when working with the wrong therapist. Clients report back that they feel they spent more time trying to get the therapist to understand the situation rather than moving forward to healing whatever was the issue at hand.

If you find yourself looking for a counselor, here are some things to consider:

Rapport goes a long way

I highly recommend not trying to schedule an appointment through email. Call the potential therapist and interview them on the phone. By that I don’t mean ask a whole bunch of personal questions that they won’t be able to answer. It’s unethical for therapists to share too much about themselves and we all know that limitation. Instead, ask them about their approach to whatever issue you want to work through. Give them a brief sentence or two about what you are looking for and why. Explain that you want to meet for a session and see if it’s a good fit for you both. When therapists make the first appointment, we are not automatically agreeing to work with a new person. In the first session, we have to assess if we think we are a good fit and can help the client. You should be doing the same thing. Rapport does go a long way because when there is a good therapeutic connection, the therapist and client can trust one another to have the client’s best interest at heart. When there is friction or an undercurrent of tension in a counseling session, very little growth will be met.

Is it easy to go to counseling?

You will definitely want to find a therapist whose office is easy for you to get to, has appointment times that work with your schedule and the sessions are at a price you can afford. Some counseling clients will try to see a therapist who charges more than what is in the client’s budget so they end up only going into the office once in a while. Good solid growth seldom happens at that infrequent of an interval.  Now, this doesn’t mean a client has to bring a sleeping bag and be at the office so much they feel like they live there but a rhythm of appointments is very helpful to see any progress.

Does the therapist think like you do?

I can’t tell you how often laughter fills the counseling room when I am working with clients. Laughing while at counseling? Absolutely! Sometimes life is so jacked up we have to laugh. Now that’s my style. I have personally walked through many life challenges and have found that a sense of humor helps soothe some of the intense pain. Do we set out to have a good time in counseling? No, but with the clients who think like I do and see life in a similar way, we find ourselves having a relaxed time while we meet.

When visiting a new therapist, notice if they ask questions or expect you to drive the session. Do they seem engaged in your life story or are suppressing yawns. Take note of how you feel. Do you feel good visiting with the person or does it feel like pulling teeth to keep the conversation flowing? When you leave the session, do you have any nuggets of new insight or a new good book to read?

Basically, was the time you spent with the new therapist worth your efforts and money? If not, keep looking.

In every city there are plenty of counselors to choose from so shop around until you find a good fit. Remember, you are not there to meet the needs of the therapist, but the therapist is there to walk with you on your journey.

A huge red flag is any therapist who makes you feel like you are there for them. It could be a number of ways but if something doesn’t feel right when you meet with a therapist, something probably isn’t right. At least for you and that’s enough evidence to move on.

Do you agree with the therapist’s approach?

There are as many therapeutic theories as there are therapists. Most of us have an eclectic mix of theories and interventions that we use. We have key books we like and have go-to handouts that help the majority of our clients. Make sure the approach to working on the problem fits with your own ethics and values. You will find this information out as you visit with a therapist. It may take a few sessions to really know if you are compatible and if you find you are not, don’t reschedule. You owe the therapist no loyalty other than cancelling with enough notice for them to fill the time spot. I have heard that some therapists use guilt with their clients and that is completely unethical. Clients are in charge of their treatment and are free to come and go as they see fit.

On a humorous side, many of us in the field are familiar with a clip that shows exactly what NOT to do as a therapist. I thought I would share it with you as an illustration of a horrendous therapist and for some chuckles The clip is from a Mad TV episode that featured Bob Newhart as the worst therapist on the planet. Go head and take a few minutes to enjoy! I will wait 🙂  “Stop It – Therapy” 

Pretty awful right?! You’d be shocked at how some therapists come across a little similar to Bob’s character or at least that’s how it feels to clients. In some settings, a faith-based therapist may add “and pray more.” It is my personal pet peeves to hear how my fellow counselors have added spiritual guilt to clients.

Now you have a few key areas to think about when looking for a therapist in your area. If you don’t find one you click with, keep looking until you do. I assure you that there is someone out there who is a good fit and will be more than happy to journey with you toward deeper healing and joy.

Keep Dreaming Big!

Shannon

 

Five Things I’ve Learned This Week – 04/15/14

counseling

Five Things I’ve Learned This Week or Was Reminded Of:

1) Fear makes people say and do things that they otherwise wouldn’t say and do. But words and actions can not be taken away, only repaired.

2) Our childhood experiences impact us in adulthood more than most people probably realize.

3) Laughter with friends is good medicine for the soul.

4) Best quote I saw this week: “Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer.” I am ready for some travel adventures!

5) It shouldn’t have been 35 degree this morning and that’s all I have to say about that!

 

What’s on your list?

Five Things I’ve Learned This Week – 03/22/14

counseling

Five Things I’ve Learned This Week or Was Reminded Of:

1) The need to change something in our lives does not mean we are a failure. It means that we are brave enough to look at what isn’t working and fix it. Failing is to continue being in denial and pretending something to be true that isn’t.

2) Best quote of the week “Love is simple”

3) Don’t ask for someone’s opinion and then argue with what they tell you. Since you asked, listen to what they have to say and then quietly decide what you believe.

4) Patience in relationships is one of the hardest things to develop. The key is to be keenly aware of why the relationship has value to you. With that in mind, we are not as prone to disposing of the relationship when the tough moments happen – and they will happen.

5) Another great quote: “Everyone comes with baggage. Find someone who loves you enough to help you unpack.”  What baggage do you need help unpacking? Do you have someone willing to help you or does the person add more baggage?

What’s on your list?

Five Things I’ve Learned This Week – 02/26/14

counseling

Five Things I’ve Learned This Week or Was Reminded Of:

1) Authenticity is at the heart of a good friendship.

2) There is a thin line between expressing our care for someone and trying to control them.

3) People face relationship obstacles in one of two ways. They either actively look for solutions to the challenges, with the desire to improve the connection, or they passively feel defeated before they try so they do nothing and become bystanders while the connection unravels.

4) I was reminded what a good book “Leading On Empty” by Wayne Cordeiro really is and if you or someone you know struggles with emotional burnout, buy this book today. It’s life changing.

5) If we want to receive an apology from someone, we must create an environment that is gracious and welcoming to the person to be transparent enough to admit their mistake. We can easily shut out apologies in our life by our own less than stellar responses.

What’s on your list?

Five Things I’ve Learned This Week – 02/09/14

counseling

Five Things I’ve Learned This Week or Was Reminded Of:

1) There are seasons in life when we are our only best friend.

2) There is a certain size and/or weight we get to and that’s when we start to sabotage our weight loss goals. More to come on this topic in my next blog post!

3) There needs to be a synergy when spending time with people or getting together is sort of like checking off a To-Do list task. That is not time well spent nor good for anyone’s soul.

4) Best quote: “I always find beauty in things that are odd and imperfect. They are much more interesting.” – Marc Jacobs

5) Good manners goes a long way in creating a loving relationship.

What’s on your list?