Psychotherapy, also known as counseling, involves talk sessions between a therapist and a client one on one or within a group setting. During the sessions, the therapist assesses, diagnoses any conditions related to the client’s emotional state or mental health, and creates a treatment plan to help treat that condition.
Achieving the desired results from psychotherapy relies heavily on whether or not a meaningful connection exists between client and therapist. For this reason, you should take the time to find the right therapist. What makes a good client-therapist fit? Here’s what you should look for.
What is therapy?
Who hasn’t experienced negative emotions related to a traumatic life event? We could all use some professional guidance during those difficult chapters in life, whether you are in the early phase of substance use recovery or are struggling with the ramifications of a divorce, parenting challenges, loss of a job, or a recent medical diagnosis. Psychotherapy can offer you the emotional support and guidance you might need.
Therapy should provide a safe, supportive and confidential setting where you can discuss your feelings and thoughts freely with a trained professional. Therapists have a large toolbox of treatments, assessments, and exercises to draw from. They also have access to the DSM-5, which offers useful detailed diagnostic criteria and additional guidance.
Once the therapist has arrived at a diagnosis, they will proceed to counsel the client accordingly. Therapists differ widely in their counseling approaches, personalities, and conversational style, so you should seek a therapist with whom you feel comfortable speaking to.
Different types of therapists
The field of psychotherapy is very complex and diverse. There are many different types of therapy, with therapists often choosing a particular specialty. For example, there are therapists that provide psychodynamic (formerly psychoanalysis, or Freudian-based talk therapy) versus cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), which is based on B.F. Skinner’s behavioral school of psychotherapy. Behavior-based therapies like CBT, dialectical behavior therapy, and motivation enhancement are very useful for therapists treat patients suffering from substance use disorder.
Some therapists specialize in trauma-focused therapies, like prolonged exposure therapy or an adjunctive therapy called eye movement desensitization reprocessing. Others might have expertise in attachment theory and therapies focused on childhood-related trauma, while some therapists specialize in neurodiversity, such as ADHD and autism. In all, there is a very wide range of different types of therapists.
How to select the best therapist for you
When first meeting with a therapist, it’s wise to pay attention to your gut feeling while chatting with them. An effective therapist possesses certain attributes, including being an empathetic person, a good listener, and someone who exhibits an authentic desire to help. These are qualities to look out for during your first session.
- Are your personalities compatible? Do you sense you will have a good rapport with the therapist? Do you feel comfortable opening up and sharing your deepest emotions?
- Do they specialize in the area that suits your needs? For example, if you are suffering from depression, finding a therapist that has expertise in treating major depressive disorder can be
- Are they warm and welcoming, or do you feel intimidated by them? Are they patronizing and impatient, or are they kind and supportive?
- Do they have positive client reviews? Online reviews can be helpful during the decision-making process but do take them with a grain of salt.
Many who have been in therapy consider it invaluable and life changing, if not life-saving. A skilled therapist can help someone through a difficult chapter in life, drawing out important new insights, and providing them with the tools to better manage life’s future challenges.
Ashley Addiction Treatment, formerly Father Martin’s Ashley, is a nationally recognized nonprofit leader in integrated, evidence-based treatment for substance use disorders and is accredited by The Joint Commission. We offer holistic care that encompasses the mind, body and spirit through inpatient and outpatient treatment, and provide drug detox, relapse prevention plans, family wellness programs and a variety of other services tailored to each patient’s unique needs. Our driving principle – “everything for recovery” – reinforces our mission to transform and save lives through the science of medicine, the art of therapy and the compassion of spirituality, and is complemented by our philosophy of healing with respect and dignity. For information about our comprehensive programs, please call (866) 313-6307.