A positive relationship between a client and therapist is based on trust and open communication. When you feel comfortable and connected to your therapist, the therapy itself improves. You will likely allow yourself to be more vulnerable because you know the person on the other end is trustworthy and cares for you. Every therapeutic relationship is different. One friend might have a ‘tough love’ relationship with their therapist, while another has a light-hearted or humorous one. Neither of these is right or wrong; a good relationship with a therapist is dependent on you and your needs.
Therapy does not always feel good. Some sessions can be challenging and painful. Working with a therapist who you trust and do not feel judged by is essential in these moments. If you trust your therapist is helping to guide you to something positive, these painful sessions can feel like part of a larger (and important!) process.
For example, if a therapist has a lot of experience working with Depression, they might be helpful for someone who is dealing with low-mood. This is not to say that your therapist has to specialize in your issue, but that can be a helpful starting point in the search.
Some therapists offer phone consultations to help both the client and therapist decide if they are a good match. Try to identify goals and expectations before your first meeting so that you decide if the therapist will be helpful with those.
If after a few sessions you start to feel like you aren’t connecting with your therapist, it is ok to tell them. This is a conversation that can either lead to an improved relationship or a referral to another therapist who might better suit your needs. Don’t be afraid to tell your therapist about these hesitations; the more open you can be, the more effective the work will be.
Making the decision to go to therapy is brave. Finding the right therapist can be hard, but it is worth the effort. Remember that this is a process that takes time, but it is time well spent in the service of taking care of yourself.
Written by Jessy Pucker, LMSW