How to Find a Good Therapist
How do you find a person you can trust with your most tender and vulnerable thoughts? Here are seven things to consider.
How does one choose a therapist? Perhaps a more accurate way of phrasing this question would be to ask, “How does one choose another human with whom to build one of the most significant relationships of one’s life, joining together in a process of skillfully and patiently mapping out the complexities, deep truths, and profound sufferings of their inner world – both conscious and unconscious.” It’s a mouthful, but it's likely closer to the truth. Even if you are choosing a therapist to help you with something that seems simple and separate from any kind of depth, it is connected. If you are going to therapy for it, meaning it is an issue you cannot think through on your own or change through sheer will power, there is a corresponding depth if you are willing to find it.
As an example, perhaps you’re considering quitting smoking. Did you start smoking because you wanted an anxiety soothing activity to fit in or seem cool? That’s why many people start smoking and it points to unresolved attachment issues. Attachment issues form out of unattended fears in your relationships to caregivers around things like belonging, being special, and feeling safe in the relationship. Maybe you cried as an infant and your cries weren’t answered often enough? You might not think that’s a big deal, but babies are totally vulnerable. A cry that goes unanswered can slowly become a fear that you will not be safe, existence is called into question, and the only thing you have to connect to a real and concrete sense of yourself is a thumb to suck on. Now you’re a smoker.
Uncovering your deeper truths is what therapy is all about. Not knowing how to find the right person to talk to can prevent many people from making changes in their life, despite wanting to. Consider the gravity of what you are trying to do: choosing a psychotherapist or any other kind of psyche healer is a serious and sometimes difficult task. Therapy is expensive, time consuming, and is a long process– you will benefit from making an educated choice. If the therapy is going to be powerful and effective, it will involve a level of emotional risk that puts you in a vulnerable position. Psychotherapists are no different from other people: there are trustworthy, skilled therapists and just as many who have found themselves in the wrong line of work. Like all people, therapists have psychic wounds with corresponding needs. It takes an incredible amount of skill and self-awareness to put your needs aside and hold space for someone else’s. When you bare your innermost tender and vulnerable parts to another human, you won’t want someone who is unconsciously seeking gratification through you. Your therapist might have a wounded-baby-turned-smoker inside too, but you want them to have the wherewithal to take enough care of the inner-baby, so that it isn’t psychically crying out for attention during your sessions.
Here are seven things to consider before you make the choice: