Just because someone says a therapist is “good” doesn’t mean they’re going to be good for you. The therapist that changed your friend’
s life may not change yours. I believe every therapeutic relationship is different and many factors go into how effective a therapist can be. Every therapist-client experience is unique.
There are the obvious factors that make a therapist “good,” like communication and listening skills, the ability to read subtext (what the client is really trying to say), creating a safe space, and pulling from various theories. But I do believe there are three less obvious but more vital qualities that every therapist should have to be truly effective.
1. Your therapist must believe you can change.
You may feel hopeless about your story, but your therapist can not. If so, he or she has a ceiling, turning the “room” into a box instead of a clear blue sky. If they don’t believe change or healing is possible for you, how can they help you execute it? And in order for them to believe you can change, they must understand you and invest in your story on some emotional level. They must not judge or compare you to other clients. This creates a unique connection which builds trust. And in this space, hope sprouts. Without it, there will no growth.
Many therapists see clients they don’t believe can change. Now there’s a difference between will and can. Will is on the client. Can is on the therapist. Everything ends or begins with what one believes. This includes your therapist.
2. You therapist should have the kind of energy you aspire to obtain.
So many therapists have flat energy. And they can get away with it because they have a plaque on their wall that says they went to therapy school. This low energy is usually due to fear or burnout from seeing too many clients. Fear to show one’s true self is extremely common in this field. We learn to hold a neutral space so the focus is on the client. OK, but at the risk of turning into a robot.
Of course, the session should always be about the client and not the therapist. But I believe there should be contagious energy generated by the therapist, the kind that is produced from one being fearless, practicing transparency, and knowing how many clients is too many. Basically, doing their best to live a healthy authentic life.
3. Your therapist has to awaken something in you.
Revelations aren’t enough. Your friends can give you a revelation about yourself. Most seek therapy because a part of them feels dead. Through the therapeutic process, something has to be awakened in the client. It doesn’t matter how this is done. It depends on the therapist. And I believe it’s less about her therapeutic approach and more about who she is. Awakenings happen through collisions of people being their authentic self. This awakening is what creates secondary change.
I don’t think it’s easy to find a “good” therapist. But the right one can change your life.