The Perfect Fit – It doesn’t just apply to jeans

Finding a therapist that you like can be really hard. I hear complaints, both professionally and personally, about having tried therapy and it not working. It seems that typically people will spend a couple of sessions or even months and then drop out of therapy despite their best efforts to engage. Continuing the conversation uncovers various complaints about the therapist they were seeing relating to the therapist’s approach or personal style. My response is usually the same – “have you tried anyone else?”

Therapists are all different. We have different personalities, we are informed by different models of therapy, we have different degrees, and we have different training.  There can be a lot of factors that go into what is happening in the therapy room between a client and a therapist. The therapeutic alliance (or how well you trust and engage with your therapist) is essential to growth and change in therapy. I have had therapists that I have really connected with versus ones that I didn’t feel a connection or even worse didn’t really like their personalities. Can you guess which therapeutic interactions I found more helpful? You got it, the ones in which I felt connected.

As therapists, we oftentimes will validate our practice and treatment modalities to normalize treatment by comparing ourselves to medical doctors in the regard of going to the doctor when you are sick or have a broken bone. In practice this looks something like ” If you broke you’re arm, you would go get a cast right? Well mental health is not all that different. You are depressed – you get treatment.” In some ways this is correct but in other ways it simplifies a pretty complicated process. The way I think about this is that I don’t have to like my doctor in order for her to treat me effectively. The medicine remains the same regardless of whether I love her personality or think that she is dry as a toast. The same does not apply to your therapist. You have to click! Its got to have ease to it and feel comfortable (well not super comfortable because we all need to get uncomfortable to change but you should be comfortable with the person treating you – you get my point).

Bottom line is don’t give up on therapy. Take your time and find the right fit.

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