The essential characteristics of the ideal therapist which lead you to profound and long lasting shifts.
Finding a therapist who fits well for you can feel like finding a needle in a haystack. There are many crucial elements and qualities required of a person who offers their professional services of counselling, therapy or coaching. This article I will discuss factors of which you need to think and feel about when you begin your sessions of therapy. Here are a few things to look out for.
First impressions always count
Nothing can be truer than ‘you never get a second chance at a first impression’. The first impression really does count, whether it’s on the phone or face to face. Besides having a professional and warm first greeting, you need to feel rather quickly that you and your therapist are a good fit.
Firstly, there are two very special qualities which you should notice almost instantly when you meet her. She must have a certain presence about her and if your therapist is in the game of helping people she must have developed a quality of ‘lovingness’. When a therapist has presence, she has the ability to not allow any preconceived ideas, prejudices, opinions or judgements to cloud her view when she is working with you.
Compassion is required in bucket loads and this ‘presence’ is the quality of being in the very present moment and being aware as to whatever is happening in the here and now, without being distracted about what’s going on around her. This type of presence was often felt by the mystics in ancient times and in our modern world we get a sense that this person has a unique gift they share with the world and is exceptional at the work they do with people.
Therapists don’t take sides when working with couples
By working with many different walks of life, a therapist becomes aware of other people and their motivations for doing what they do, their sacrifices, their anxieties, their dreams, ambitions, deep hurts and disappointments. Working with couples is no different. Sometimes a couple will choose to work with the same therapist which they see as a couple. If they are comfortable will this, enormous benefits come from this arrangement. Deep insight of the couples dynamics is gained by the therapist when each person shares sensitive information in individual sessions. Lively discussion on the complexities of the relationship can follow in a couples session after. Sometimes couples choose individual therapists and a separate couples therapist to support them. Whichever arrangement feels right for both is vitally important.
An affair is a sensitive issue in a marriage and nothing is more demeaning to a person when a therapist judges a person for a gazing eye. Understanding why they have roamed is the key to moving through infidelity. When a therapist takes the right approach, a couple can learn from these tumultuous experiences whether they choose to stay together or part. The moment you feel like you are being judged, shamed, or blamed by your therapist and one partner is told they are right, and the other wrong, alarm bells are ringing. Sometimes, a therapist can be triggered by her own experience of betrayal or her own lack of sexual expression. If these parts of her remain unexplored she will not have the capacity to remain impartial when a couple presents with certain challenges.
An experienced therapist working with couples will know how to mediate and direct effortlessly, provoke, liberate and enchant the couple through their challenges. She will take you both on a journey, so the decision to stay together, repair and do things differently or separate with love and move on will be done with clarity, honour and confidence.
Telling your story over and over won’t change it
Often the root ball of the issue still lies deep within you and it is a skilled therapist who knows exactly how to take you down into the core disturbance in your unconscious mind and not just tug on the tentacles or threads which are attached to the real trauma or issue. Discussing surface issues does you no favours in igniting the profound shifts which give you long lasting positive change in your life.
An experienced therapist will not let you tell your story over and over as it serves no benefit when you do. Looking into your past is meaningful if there is an intention to do something about your trauma which sits inside you. Some people like to re-tell certain events of their life and use them as excuses for their behaviours. This shows an unwillingness to take full responsibility for your life right now. Your therapist will ask you specific key questions about your journey and any ongoing health concerns which will join the pieces of the puzzle. Ultimately you want to be guided to be alive in the present and to understand how the hangovers from the past have prevented you from fully experiencing this moment in time.
Planning your session ahead of time isn’t ideal
Having a plan or formula for you is also not a good idea as this creates the onset of the session to be sterile and manufactured, not really organic and authentic. What was going on for you a few days prior when you called her for an appointment could be different to the day you arrive for your session.
It is important she give up any belief about what may be ‘good’ for you. What is good for you ahead of time is not something she can know, only for herself. She can have ideas and most good therapists do, but she cannot know before meeting you what will work best for you. This can set up the client needing saving and the therapist in protection of the client.
Your therapist can’t save you
No client or actually anybody needs saving and having the kind of desire or intention to save anyone is adopting a real attitude of arrogance.
When she drops the idea of what should be the best outcome for you or a particular session and instead has the willingness to explore and help you uncover what has been holding you back on living your best and most full life in regard to your health, relationships and career success. Adopting this approach is far more rewarding and successful.
This may seem obvious, however there are many therapists out there who have not worked on their own family system in a thorough and therapeutic way. This shows up when a therapist overly identifies herself with your issues instead of empathising with you.
She will feel you, connect with what you are feeling and going through but not get caught up in what you are going through as if it is her own experience.
Your therapist must be resolved with her own family system and any trauma which occured in her life
Your therapist will be connected to her own parents in a healthy way and hold them close in her heart. It is only in this space that she can find a place to hold your parents and your system in her heart as well, despite whatever may or may not have happened in your family system. When your therapist can honour and respect your parents for whoever they are and whatever they have done, profound change comes through for you, as there are no distractions or intrusions via the therapist.
It is vital your therapist remains undisturbed and centred. When she does this, it allows you to become in touch with your reality more deeply. Often it is the therapist who can be more afraid than the client and when this happens it will shut down her intuition and she won’t say what she needs to say to you at crucial times throughout your session.
The role of the therapist is to help you face your reality. It is not to rescue you. By supporting you to find your reality and accepting it, this will give you enormous strength and courage which comes from a grounded place and therefore you will save yourself. This is you discovering your own truth through the facilitation of your therapist.
Imagine a therapist who was raped or abused when she was younger and she has not fully dealt with it and come to peace with what happened. She will therefore find it difficult to take her client through the process and support her fully if she herself is incomplete or unresolved with what happened in her past.
Similarly, if a therapist is angry at men, then how on earth can she help you to open up to them and deepen your intimacy in your relationship? When working with you, she also learns from you and through this process she transforms herself too.
Leaving the responsibility with you, not your therapist
An inexperienced therapist may try too hard, or feel an urge to help you too much. Something really important to look out for within yourself is transference. This is when the love for your parents which you may not have received in the way you wanted is projected onto your therapist. This is definitely not healthy or beneficial to your growth.
Nobody can replace your parents and the mature therapist will never try to treat her client as a child. At the very start of your therapy sessions with her, the experienced therapist will leave all the responsibility for your life in your hands. It is not hers to carry. This way, no dependency can develop and growth and change can happen more swiftly.
The ideal therapist is the one who takes you on a journey of self discovery and holds you in the palm of her hand effortlessly and carefully directs you whilst you navigate the twists and turns of making sense of the challenges and difficult patterns which arise in your life.