Here is a list of things to look for when looking for a professional. Now, let’s look at the signs that it may be time to think about changing your therapist.
Lack of contact
Active participation of both parties – the client and the therapist – is a necessary condition of progress. The principle of partner interaction and contact is one of the key principles in psychotherapy; it is teamwork in which trust and understanding are important. As with any other therapist, it is important to find someone with whom you feel comfortable – it is normal if looking for “your” person takes time and you have to turn to representatives of different schools and directions.
The personality of the therapist matters a lot. If you do not feel that you are heard and understood correctly, if you cannot get rid of the feeling that the therapist’s beliefs and attitude differ too much from yours and this affects his work, it makes sense to keep looking.
The contact is too close.
The credit of trust given to a psychotherapist is enormous, but sometimes it leads to a blurring of boundaries. If this happens when you first seek psychological help, it may seem like “that’s the way it’s meant to be” and psychotherapy is about heart-to-heart conversations in an atmosphere of close friendship. But extremes are fraught with problems, and too close contact is just as counterproductive as a complete lack of understanding. Psychotherapeutic interventions have certain protocols, and a good therapist is careful to follow them.
The danger may also arise after a long period of cooperation: in this case, communication starts to resemble friendships, conversations are about themes unrelated to psychotherapy, the therapist shares details about his or her life, moves to a certain level of intimacy or allows informal communication outside psychotherapy sessions. It is not important on whose initiative the necessary distance is reduced; if this condition is violated, it is time to look for another therapist. It is impossible to help the client learn to build healthy boundaries without having this skill yourself.
Lack of support
If everything is more or less intuitively clear with the question of distance, the issue of neutrality is somewhat more complicated. In theory, the psychotherapist is a neutral and impartial figure. But in practice, the client is in a situation of vulnerability and needs unconditional support. In other words, it is important to be supported, encouraged, and praised.
A competent therapist can help you see progress and teach you to appreciate the work you are doing. Every small step in the right direction motivates you and gives you the strength to move on and look for solutions to your problems. If, however, before the meeting with the psychotherapist you have the feeling of a delinquent schoolboy or a heavy feeling of loneliness and anxiety, this is a reason to look for a new specialist.
Strange methods of work
Unfortunately, it is possible that you may encounter unprofessionalism, strange unproven methods, or an openly commercial attitude towards the client. If the psychotherapist does not cope with answering your questions, cannot clearly and concisely explain the purposes of his actions, insists on exercises, practices, and methods that are unacceptable and uncomfortable for you – you may be faced with an incompetent self-qualified person who is guided not by professional standards, but by his own fantasies and “author’s methods.
It is equally dangerous if they try to impose non-existent diagnoses and prolong therapy. The oppressive feeling that you are just being used as a source of income is an ironclad reason to see another psychotherapist.
Inattentiveness or forgetfulness
In most cases, psychotherapy is a long process, so it is important that the psychotherapist does not forget important facts and details of your life, does not get confused about the events, knows the peculiarities of your psyche.
It doesn’t matter how exactly this is accomplished: by good memory, by mnemonic techniques, or by simple notes in a notebook that the doctor reviews before each meeting – what’s important is that you don’t have to recount the same experiences or events several times. If you and your life are confused with one of the other clients, your confidentiality may suffer – and that’s definitely a reason to end the relationship.
Psychotherapy can well be a source of negative emotions and unpleasant experiences. Often the way to solve a problem is through a “traumatic” period, dissecting fears and complexes and re-experiencing the situations that, in fact, made one seek help. This is not the most pleasant process, but understanding the goal and algorithm of actions together with professional “accompaniment” compensates for the painfulness of the experience.
It is important that “storms” do not drag on and do not turn into a leitmotif of your meetings with the therapist. Psychotherapy should not turn into a series of feats and a constant race for survival. The feeling of hopelessness of efforts, fear of telling the truth, constant anxiety and depression, and a lack of feeling of relief are reasons to conduct an audit of interaction with the therapist.
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