What are the signs of a good therapist? Learn about what to look out for when choosing a therapist and when to find a new one.
Have you ever wondered what type of therapy - or therapist - would be best for you?
If you’re considering therapy or behavioral health services, you may be thinking about what type of therapist would be best for you. Most of the time, it’s not about the therapist being either "good" or "bad" but about the therapist being the right fit for you. It’s true that there are better fits than others.
We all have different personalities and preferences. Sometimes two people click immediately and sometimes they don’t. Sometimes it may take a few sessions with a therapist to determine if they are a good fit for you.
Considering your reason/s to start therapy may help you determine what type of therapy would be a better fit. In this post, we will discuss what makes therapy effective and what signs to look out for that may signal it may be time to find a new therapist.
Good Therapy/Good Therapist:
Good therapy includes when the therapist builds therapeutic rapport and alliance with you. They help you feel safe and comfortable. They can accomplish this by cultivating trust and respect in the therapeutic relationship. They provide unconditional positive regard and affirm your human dignity and worth. They have boundaries and are ethical.
- Good therapy: is when a therapist takes into account the whole person, by considering your history, family of origin, your biography, your inner world, and how you subjectively experience the world. They are non-judgemental towards you.
- Good therapy: entails having a treatment focus and clear goals from the beginning. Sessions are focused and structured. The therapist is able to manage their time during the session and address your concerns. They are focused on the treatment objectives but also meet you where you are.
- Good therapy: is when a therapist checks in with you about how you think therapy is going, how they are doing as your therapist, and they welcome feedback.
- Good therapy: encourages and models accurate, honest, and timely feedback and communication (Shpancer, 2016).
- Good therapists: use evidence based practices and continue their professional learning.
- Good therapists: encourage your autonomy, competence and self-determination, but gently help you challenge false beliefs and unhelpful thought patterns.
- Good therapists: help you with finding solutions, building skills, learning and facilitating action, but they don’t tell you what to do. They remind you they are not the expert of your life; you are. Good therapists remind you that you are the one making the positive changes in your life and they give you ownership of the progress you’ve made (Shpancer, 2016).
Other indicators of good therapy include: you feel better and not worse, you feel that you’re getting better and making progress. You feel better about yourself and have more self-efficacy. You continue to gain new insights.
Therapy Red Flags:
On the flip side, you may encounter a therapy relationship that is not going as expected. Sometimes a red flag behavior may be unintentional from an overall good therapist and you feel safe and comfortable addressing it with them.
Other times, the therapist may have too many red flag behaviors and perhaps they don’t acknowledge their behavior or won’t accept feedback or take accountability which are situations when you may want to consider moving on. What are some of the red-flags that can clue you into therapy being less helpful than desired? Some indicators of bad therapy include the following:
- The therapist: behaves unprofessionally or unethically
- The therapist: lacks boundaries with you, which may make you feel uncomfortable or question the ethics of their practice
- The therapist: tells you what to do instead of respecting your self-determination, (e.g., telling you to end relationships with loved ones or friends)
- The therapist: makes blaming statements about your family or friends for your problems in a judgemental or devaluing way,
- The therapist: is frequently late or frequently reschedules
- The therapist: cannot seem to remember details of previous sessions and need constant reminders.
- The therapist: checks their personal devices in session or seems distracted for other reasons
- The therapist: is unclear about treatment goals and you are unclear
- The therapist: does not instill a sense of trust, warmth, etc.
- The therapist: takes credit for your progress or assumes they are the expert in your life instead of you.
Online Therapy Options
Mental health services online address a wide range of mental health concerns, emotional challenges, and behavior issues. Therapy comes in many forms, each with a unique approach and set of techniques. Common mental health online services can address depression, anxiety, trauma, grief, anger, or relationship problems. Depending on the symptoms, a therapist may use various therapeutic techniques to offer support, guidance, and assistance.
Types of Talk Therapy
Online Depression Therapy
Depression therapy is a form of talk therapy designed to alleviate the symptoms of depression and help individuals return to a normal, functional state. In more severe cases, treatment may also include medication, such as antidepressants. Treatment plans for online depression therapy will depend on the individual's needs and preferences, as well as the severity of their symptoms.
Online Anxiety Therapy
Anxiety therapy is a type of treatment that aims to help individuals manage their anxiety. It can take many forms, but the goal is to teach people coping mechanisms and techniques for managing their anxiety so that it does not interfere with their daily lives. Online anxiety therapy is typically provided by mental health professionals, such as psychologists or therapists, and can be delivered in individual or group sessions.
Online Trauma Therapy
Trauma therapy is a form of psychological treatment that is designed to help people who have experienced trauma to process their emotions, thoughts, and behaviors related to the trauma. Trauma can be caused by a wide range of events, including physical, sexual, or emotional abuse, natural disasters, accidents, war, or other types of violence. The goal of online trauma therapy is to help people to understand and cope with their experiences, reduce their distress, and improve their functioning in daily life.
Online Grief Therapy
Grief therapy is designed to help people cope with the emotional and psychological responses of grief and loss. Online grief therapy can be helpful for people who are struggling to come to terms with the loss of a loved one, or for those who are experiencing grief as a result of some other significant life change or loss. The goal of grief therapy is to help people understand and work through their grief in a healthy way, so that they can move forward with their lives.
Online Anger Therapy
Anger therapy helps individuals identify and manage their anger. It can be beneficial for people who have difficulty controlling their anger or who have unhealthy expressions of anger, such as verbal or physical outbursts. Anger therapy may involve a range of techniques. The goal of online anger therapy is to help individuals develop healthier ways of coping with and expressing anger and to improve their relationships and overall well-being.
Online Couples Therapy
Also known as marriage counseling, online couples therapy aims to help couples improve their relationships. It can be beneficial for couples who are experiencing conflicts, communication problems, or other issues that are impacting their relationship. Some common goals of couples therapy include improving communication, resolving conflicts, and building stronger emotional connections. It can be conducted in individual sessions or group sessions and may involve both partners working separately or together.
There are many different modalities of talk therapy. A mental health professional may choose to use one or more of the following:
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) - This type of therapy aims to help people identify and change negative patterns of thought and behavior.
- Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) - This technique combines cognitive-behavioral techniques with mindfulness and acceptance-based approaches. It is often used to treat people with borderline personality disorder.
- Psychoanalytic therapy - This form of therapy focuses on the unconscious mind and early childhood experiences and aims to help people understand and resolve conflicts that are causing them distress.
- Humanistic therapy - This technique focuses on the individual's subjective experience and promotes self-growth and personal responsibility.
- Family therapy - This form of therapy involves treating the family as a unit and focuses on the relationships and dynamics within the family.
- Group therapy - These psychological services involve a group of people who come together to work on common issues or goals.
- Interpersonal therapy (IPT) -This focuses on the individual's relationships with others and aims to improve communication and problem-solving skills.
These are just a few examples of the many different modalities of psychological services that are available. It's important to note that different approaches may be more or less effective for different people and different mental health concerns.
If you find yourself in a therapy situation that you would like to change, do not give up on therapy. Online therapy has been shown to be effective and can help. Sometimes, you may just need to find a better match in the therapist or treatment modality.
At CHE Behavioral Health Services, we offer a full range of mental health services online to treat a variety of mental health concerns. Whether you have depression or anxiety or need help transitioning through a difficult time, our therapists use effective treatments to help individuals heal, grow, and thrive.
For more information about mental health online services, please call 888-515-3834. We are ready to talk, and ready to listen.
Makenzie Pacubas, MSW, LCSW. Makenzie is a clinical social worker who has worked in the mental health field for over a decade and now works in clinical quality assurance with CHE Behavioral Health Services. Makenzie lives in Missouri with her husband, Justin, and their two pets. She likes to exercise, read, get outdoors, and try new restaurants with her husband.
“10 Ways to Spot a Good Therapist.” Psychology Today, 2016, www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/insight-therapy/201603/10-ways-spot-good-therapist.
Shpancer Ph.D., Noam Shpancer. “10 Ways to Spot a Good Therapist.” Psychology Today, 2016, www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/insight-therapy/201603/10-ways-spot-good-therapist.