After the interview with Dr. Hayden Finch about how to choose a therapist I got a lot of messages from you that you are already in therapy but you have doubts it is helpful for you or you are working with a right person. I feel the question ‘How could I know that I have a good therapist’ is a very important one, so I am honored to present you what is Dr. Hayden Finch’s opinion about it.
Dr. Hayden Finch is an experienced psychologist who supports a lot of people on their inner journeys. If you search for more information about therapy, recovery, personal development look at the blog haydenfinch.com and find Hayden on Youtube, Instagram, and Twitter! And of course, read our previous interviews!
Unfortunately, there is the entire ocean between me and Hayden, so we communicate via emails and you will not listen to the nice voice of Hayden on the record. If you prefer listening than reading, I will tell you every word she shared with us there!
How could I know that I have a good therapist?
Hayden: You’ll know you have a good therapist if you feel supported and challenged at the same time. It’s important that you feel safe with the person, but don’t expect every session to be easy or even to make you feel good. Therapy often doesn’t feel good… We’re working on hard emotions and changing bad habits. It’s hard work! I tell my clients: If you want to feel good, go get a massage… If you want to change, we’ve got to get a little uncomfortable.
What should your therapist do?
Your therapist should respect your time (by showing up on time to appointments and not canceling or rescheduling too frequently), listen when you talk, and remember what you’ve told them in the past. They should be prepared for your sessions. They should continuously refer to your goals rather than just chatting about random topics. Your therapist should also be willing to learn alongside you (e.g., by doing research about your struggles). The combination of competence plus connection is the secret sauce for a good therapist — it’s not sufficient to just have a therapist you like, you also need to have a therapist who will encourage you to make the changes that brought you into therapy in the first place.
What if feel you have a good therapist but there is no progress?
Even when you have a great therapist, someone you really feel comfortable with and someone who’s encouraging you and pushing you, you don’t always make the progress you’d expect. Sometimes, it’s necessary to make a change. This could be a change in your therapist, a change in the treatment approach, a change in the treatment plan, or a combination of all three.
I always encourage my clients to talk to me if they are feeling discouraged in therapy or if they’re not making expected progress so we can discuss what change to make. It’s much more efficient to have these discussions with your therapist than to try to figure it out alone — your therapist knows you, your treatment goals, other providers in the area, and what’s possible in therapy, so they’re a good resource.
Trust yourself and don’t worry you can hurt your therapist!
Rest assured, it does not hurt a therapist’s feelings to talk about changing to a different therapist. Our job is to help you reach your goals, so we will do whatever that takes. You’ll know it’s time to make a change when you’re coming into each session and realizing you haven’t made any changes between sessions even though you’re putting in true effort.