I started seeing therapists as early as age twelve in regards to what early teenage me would have described as crippling anxiety and less than adequate emotional intelligence.
Needless to say; I've gotten my fair share of misdiagnosis, flawed advice and life-altering affirmations made by less than qualified professionals.
More than ten years later as a patient, and now a Certified Counselor, I'm familiar with both sides of the coin; therefore, I am here to provide you with the signs that your new therapist isn't a waste of your time, or worse, money.
They Possess Outstanding Interpersonal Skills
Interpersonal skills are a set of tactics and behaviors that allows us to achieve positive interactions with others; the areas can range from attitude, emotional intelligence to communication skills.
Those traits include but are not limited to empathy, compassion, accountability, integrity, honesty, optimism, and the list goes on and on.
A therapist with social intelligence under his belt will make you feel at home; they are interested in your personal experiences, they're actively trying to see through your eyes, empathizing with your stress, validating your struggles instead of shaming you for your background.
You have no trouble communicating.
We've all been there, sitting down at the couch looking at our therapist wondering what in the heck they are talking about, and too scared to ask for clarification, as the last three times you did you ended up with the same nonexistent clue that you already had.
A fantastic therapist possesses the ability to clarify on all your doubts; they will go out of their way to paint a picture using language that will make it accessible for you to understand, therefore you will be able to agree or disagree with their strategies.
They CAN listen and WILL remember.
Think of it as having a friend that can somehow recall a meaningful experience you had years ago, meaning they paid attention to the circumstances and they were able to assign meaning to that experience that guided you to where you're standing at this point.
Would you be surprised? Flattered? They care enough to not only listen to you but also recall with great detail on how that changed your relationship.
A mental health professional should be able to recall your personal experiences with little to no refreshments because a significant part of their trade is to listen and evaluate your own experiences to provide you with treatment that is suitable to your individual needs.
Ability to provide explanations for your symptoms & treatment adaptability.
Let's face it, the reason you're seeking therapy in the first place is you're dealing with internal distress, and that can take many forms depending on the individual.
Think of it as snowflakes, they may all look the same to the naked eye, but once you dive in deep, you can appreciate that they're all as unique as your fingerprints.
A knowledgeable therapist will be able to identify and explain your symptoms, even when you can't seem to grasp the root and depth of the issue. They will also be able to adapt the treatment to your particular needs and craft it in a way that sets up your process for success.
Many seek therapy because of a feeling of distrust or isolation towards their loved ones, and that's nothing to feel shameful about, we all have a backpack we carry around, and it's only natural not to want to pollute our close one's minds with our clutter.
In that same order, your therapist is the person you should feel comfortable pouring your heart and soul to; they are your first thought in times of crisis, they know how big your backpack is and how heavy it is on you.
The therapeutic alliance allows you to feel your most comfortable in their presence, I had a close friend tell me they were seeing a therapist that charged X amount per hour (which was way over his budget), but he kept on coming because of the way he felt around her, they connected on a deeper level.
Key takeaway: Alliance is priceless.
Kiss sugar coating goodbye!
An outstanding therapist won't be afraid to call you out on your distortions, honestly is the best policy and they know it, they're ready to hold you accountable for your words, actions and promises as long as it is for your development.
They say tough love is still loving, and they've studied for years to know what's best for your process, some truths are harder to deal with, but they have a talent for bursting bubbles without hurting your feelings.
A key indicator of A+ therapy is it's results, as small as being able to shower twice a day or as big as not falling into addictive behavior, no matter what recovery looks like for you, it's happening, and you're harvesting your rewards based on the combination of your superstar therapist guidance and your kickass efforts.
Your recovery is a journey, a process, imagine your therapist as a friend, a mentor, someone you'd want to sail with through dark waters, someone you trust will show you the way back to your dreamland.
So choose wisely.
Maria Alejandra Stefan - Contributor
Maria is a certified counseling psychologist who loves to write about mental health, lifestyle, and wellness. She is passionate about two things: writing and marketing.