How to Find a Good Therapist

I’ve had several therapists over the years. One was tough as nails and wouldn’t let me get away with anything. She helped me grow up. One had a huge, kind, heart. He helped me grow in. One asked if I’d forgiven the man who molested me, and when I said I’d like to rip that guy’s cojones off he sadly shook his head and chided me about being stiff when he put his arm around me. I didn’t go back. Good therapists are worth their weight in gold. Bad therapists, like bad doctors or priests, can be dangerous and destructive. So how do you find a good one? You should be able to tell fairly quickly, within a couple of sessions, whether this person is a good fit for you or not. In addition to the simple matter of personality, there are some very important perceptions that can guide your choice:

  • You should feel deeply seen and heard. You should feel felt.
  • You should feel you can trust her with your deepest, most painful and shameful secrets.
  • You should feel like you’re getting somewhere.
  • You should feel like you’re learning how to be stronger, healthier, and more independent.
  • You should feel like you’re learning the skills you need to cope, to self-soothe, to resolve personal issues and conflicts with others, to put things into a healthy perspective, to feel more in control of your life, and to have healthier relationships.
  • You should feel better and better about yourself and who you really are.
  • You should like yourself more and criticize yourself less.
  • You should feel more and more hopeful.You should feel more connected to your body, your Self, and the people you love.
  • You should feel like she accepts all parts of you.
  • You should feel that there is no judgment about you or any part of you.
  • You should feel like she sees the real you underneath all the mess.
  • You should feel more and more compassionate toward yourself and others.
  • She should help you discover and express your own deep longings and hopes.
  • She should teach you how to listen to your own inner wisdom about what you need and want, what will work for you and support your life, and what is your own “right path.”
  • She doesn’t force the process of forgiveness, or shame you into it. She understands that it is an organic and multi-layered process that develops in its own perfect timing.
  • She doesn’t shame or blame you or anyone else.
  • You should feel more and more able to deal with problems.
  • She doesn’t tell you what you should do or not do.
  • She doesn’t take advantage of you (in ANY way).
  • She never uses sexual touch to “comfort” you.
  • Her goal is to strengthen your ability to hear and honor your own internal wisdom, not to make you more compliant to any outside authority, including her.
  • She helps you be more aware and conscious of whatever limits you and keeps you from being as big as you really are.
  • She helps you be as kind, loving, and peaceful as you can be.
  • She helps you feel more free, strong, empowered, joyful, flexible, hopeful, optimistic, playful, and balanced.
  • You should feel like you have space…to tell your story, to be with the pain, to connect with the most fragile and painful layers of suffering, to feel your way toward your truth, to find your own words for your own experience, in your own voice, your own way.

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