By Lauren Presutti
Therapy is where you should feel completely safe to be your authentic self. You should be able to shut out the rest of the world and just focus on YOU – your happiness, frustrations, challenges, dreams, desires, fears, ideas, thoughts, feelings, and whatever comes to mind. Therapy is the one space in your life where you truly don’t have to worry about the person sitting across from you, because you know that person is solely focused on your wellness. You shouldn’t have to feel as if you’re performing and you don’t need to hold back. In fact, we encourage you to be brutally honest and open. Therapy should be an outlet where you can safely express yourself without fear of judgment. Is this how you feel in therapy?
If not, it’s time to evaluate whether you are truly getting good treatment. If you are receiving therapy outside of River Oaks Psychology and feel like it’s just not the warm, welcoming, validating, wholeheartedly supportive experience that you deserve, we hope you’ll reach out to us to see if we can better meet your needs. We are committed to person-centered therapy and pride ourselves on our ability to help people feel like they authentically belong here.
Or, if you are receiving therapy at River Oaks Psychology and there is a misalignment between our mission and what’s actually happening during your sessions, we urge you to speak up and let us know how we need to improve. Your feedback is critical to our continuous improvement. We strive to always provide excellent treatment, but if something seems off or you’re just not clicking with your therapist, we depend on your ability to speak up so we can facilitate a smooth transfer to another therapist. Sometimes two people just don’t vibe well together. We completely understand this and hope you will speak up if you’d like to try another therapist. After all, you deserve the best experience possible.
So how do you know if you have a good therapist? What makes a good therapist? While every therapist may have their own unique style and approach to treatment, we believe the following 25 questions can help you determine if you have a good therapist. Please note these questions are not meant to overgeneralize everyone’s personal experiences. Instead, they are simply meant to help you reflect on how you feel about the relationship with your therapist.
- Is your therapist listening to you? Really listening? Not just nodding along?
- Is your therapist focused on you? Do they seem distracted or disinterested?
- Is your therapist knowledgeable about your concerns? This is especially important if you are struggling with certain mental health conditions or traumas in which having a particular expert is essential.
- Do you feel pressured in your sessions? Therapists might challenge self-defeating patterns from time to time, but you should NEVER feel pressured.
- Does your therapist rush your treatment? Therapy should always go at your own pace.
- Does your therapist remember important things about you? If it seems like your therapist is always forgetting key pieces of information, that’s not a good sign.
- Are the session about YOU? This one seems obvious, but the sessions should always be about you. If your therapist is talking about themself, it’s probably time to find a new therapist.
- Can you count on your therapist to show up? While emergencies and sicknesses can happen in life, you should be able to count on your therapist to show up without repeated absences.
- Do you worry about your therapist? That’s not a good sign. You shouldn’t have to worry about your therapist’s feelings, reactions, or life circumstances. You probably have enough to worry about. Your therapist should be able to hold your stories and emotions and not be fazed by them.
- Is your therapist trying to be your friend? This is a major red flag. Boundaries are essential to the treatment process. Your therapist should always be kind and sincere with you, but if it seems like boundaries are being crossed and your therapist is acting more like a friend than a professional, it’s important to speak up.
- Can you trust your therapist? The bond between you and your therapist should always be centered on mutual trust and respect for each other.
- Do you leave your sessions feeling worse? Occasionally this might occur if you’ve explored a particularly painful subject area, but if it seems to be happening more often than not, something needs to change.
- Does your therapist offer insight, strategies, or tools for getting better? If you’re going to therapy but gaining nothing from your therapist, that’s not a good sign. Whether it be new realizations, increased awareness, ideas for coping, learned skills, or other takeaways, you should feel like you’re gaining something.
- Are things making sense? Your therapist should use terms and language that you understand. If therapy is consumed with too much clinical jargon that doesn’t feel relatable, that’s probably not helpful.
- Is your therapist biased? Your therapist should not be biased. They should be completely affirming and supportive of however you identify with respect to race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, religion, ability, socioeconomic status, or any other form of difference.
- Does your therapist ask guiding questions? Good therapists understand that people often need questions to help them think more deeply about thoughts, feelings, and ideas.
- Does your therapist make you feel cared about? Therapy is not merely a business transaction. It is a healthcare service where you should feel intimately connected and cared about.
- Does your therapist talk too much? Therapists who talk more than patients are often not allowing you the space you need to work through your struggles.
- Does your therapist understand you? You should always feel understood and validated.
- Does therapy feel like a valuable investment of time? If you feel like it’s not worthwhile, you probably don’t have a good therapist.