Finding the Right Fit
It is not a matter of if you find a “good counselor.” Instead, consider if you and the counselor are a good fit. There may be times where you face a great therapist, but are not the best fit when it comes to style or needs. Below are some signs and considerations when thinking about the professional relationship between you and a counselor:
You have or can see trust building with your counselor
For initial sessions, the idea of meeting with a stranger and disclosing our presenting issues can be intimidating. Safe to say that there may not be trust yet. However, one of the first goals in therapy is to build a therapeutic relationship, rapport, and trust. Over the first few sessions of feeling out the space and getting to know your counselor, you may feel your guard lowering and starting to feel more comfortable. Having trust in your professional relationship with your therapist is a potential sign that you have a good match.
Your therapist isn’t throwing advice or fortune telling
Some people may initially come to counseling hoping for advice on their situations. However, that is not the purpose of counseling. Counseling is a safe space through whatever journey the client is taking. Advice giving is very tricky. The difficult part of advice giving is the therapist has the luxury of not having the consequences of the advice, you would have to face it. Therefore, it is important to follow the concept that the client is the expert of their experience. Instead, the counselor can assist in providing insight, showing options, and supporting/ growing tools to help you on your path. It’s also important to remember that some people don’t come to counseling for advice, but for someone who will listen.
Your therapist challenges you
It is nice having someone to validate you, and that is an important part of counseling. However, it is not the only purpose. In order to create change and achieve goals, it sometimes means going outside our comfort zone, gentle confrontation, and thought processing. That includes trusting the therapist and the counseling process while challenging thoughts or behaviors. A counselor can challenge a client in multiple ways. It could be providing “homework” or even challenging to provide new insight. A therapist is not a “yes man.”
You benefit from sessions
Not every session will end with a perfect bow and feeling overjoyed. Therapy can be hard work and there may be sessions where you dive into things you have been avoiding for years. With this being said, you may not walk out of session feeling overjoyed, and maybe even feel drained. This is normal! There will be times that you feel motivated, inspired, and positive in your session. Celebrate those days! But also recognize that the draining sessions have a purpose as well. The goal for the therapist is that the client walks out the door feeling that the session was meaningful in some way. Whether it is a feeling of relief, support, or encouraged to keep working towards goals.