On my blog entry entitled What is the Point of Therapy?, a reader posted the following comment:
Faith, I’m happy for you that you found a good therapist. That’s not so easy. It took me several attempts before I found someone serious … I would encourage anybody who is reluctant, or who has had a bad experience with an incompetent therapist, to try again until you find the right fit — provided, of course, that your country’s health system allows you to do so! ~ Ahlize
Ahlize brings up a very important point – that your relationship with your therapist needs to be a good match. Even when a therapist comes highly recommended and has helped several of your friends, he or she might not be the right match for you.
I sometimes receive emails asking what to do if a person does not feel comfortable with a new therapist. I always tell the person to trust her intuition. If something inside is telling you that this is not a good match, then listen to that voice. There are many therapists out there, and not all of them are going to be a good match for you.
I was very fortunately to find a good therapist on my first try. My pastor recommended him, and he turned out to be just what I needed.
However, I had a bad experience with a psychiatrist referral to seek medication to help me through my post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms. Before I even met him, I got a bad vibe from his waiting room. The vibe got worse when I met him. By the end of the session, I knew that I would never come back to see him, and my therapist was very supportive of this decision.
Opening up to a therapist is a very personal experience, and you need someone who you feel comfortable doing this with. For example, I would not have done well with a therapist who never showed any reaction when I shared about traumatizing events that I suffered. My therapist would wince when I told him something very bad. He did it in a way that said, “That abuse was bad,” but not in a “you are bad” way. Other people might have a different reaction to him, but his reactions were exactly what I needed.
Some therapists are very into labels. Mine was not. He brought up a label when it was useful. (Believe it or not, I was shocked to learn that I had PTSD!) However, most of the time, he wanted me focusing upon loving and accepting myself and processing my emotions. The labels did not matter.
While this method was great for me, I know other child abuse survivors who really need the labels to help them wrap their minds around their experiences. Neither way is “better” or “worse.” What matters is that it is the right match for you.
Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt