If you are in therapy or searching for a new therapist, you may wonder what makes a good counselor or therapist. Various approaches to therapy work for people’s different needs. In other words, therapy is not a one-size-fits-all approach – it can help based on the context and a person’s experience.
If you are wondering what therapy options would work for you and what makes an excellent therapist, there are many things to keep in mind. Here are ten ways to tell if you have a good therapist or things to look out for if you are looking for a new therapist:
Are They Really Listening to You?
Listening is an essential skill for any therapist. They will take in what you are saying and make it known that they understand what you’re saying.
If you often feel like your therapist is distracted and not really listening, it may be time to move on to a different one.
If you’re unsure what listening looks like, here is an example:
Nonverbal signs of listening: eye contact, facial expressions, and posture.
Verbal cues: your therapist may summarize or reflect on what you’ve talked about, or if they don’t understand, they will ask for clarification.
A Good Therapist Validates You
The ideal therapist validates a client’s thoughts, emotions, experiences, and actions. However, remember that it doesn’t mean they always agree with you – approval and validation are two different concepts.
For example, approval is a value judgment. A solid therapist won’t make these judgments regarding your experiences, thoughts, and feelings.
Validation is acknowledgment and acceptance. A qualified therapist will make you feel validated when you are open with them about the truth of your experiences.
They Guide You to Do a Lot of the Work
A good counselor or therapist doesn’t just take credit for a client’s self-improvement – they will serve as a guide for you to be able to take on a lot of the work. Therapy ultimately is self-therapy, and since it revolves around the client, the client needs to do a lot of the work in therapy.
They Offer Support, Learning and Facilitate Action
Good therapy can help clients on various levels, positively impacting their emotions, behavior, and thinking. An ideal therapist will be empathetic, understand the client, create an alliance, and become aware of how they operate. In addition, therapy can be an excellent learning opportunity, and an excellent therapist will offer innovative new thoughts and insights, and how to manage emotions better. In addition, good therapy will focus on a person’s day-to-day actions and allow them to practice new skills and create new habits.
A Good Therapist Keeps Intersectionality in Mind
Many people with diverse backgrounds can seek out therapy, but the therapist must know how to work with different demographics—for example, communities of different religions, LGBTQ+ folks, BIPOC, and more. The therapist must ensure that they can deeply understand a client’s unique challenges.
If you are part of the LGBTQ+ community and looking for a good therapist, check out this link about How to Find An LGBTQ+ Therapist.
You Don’t Feel Judged
If you share something personal with your therapist, you may fear that they will judge you. It’s essential to see how your therapist reacts to what you’ve said and how you feel about it. If you feel safe sharing something deeply personal with your therapist, they are likely doing their job right. In addition, be sure that your therapist isn’t trying to fix you or make you feel like you are broken. A therapist relationship should feel more like an ally and someone you can trust or build trust with.
A Good Therapist Empowers and Challenges You
Therapy should be an empowering experience where you feel challenged positively. For example, your therapist may ask why you’re approaching things in a specific way, or they will make observations about certain patterns in your life. In essence, the right therapist will guide you in questioning your thoughts as a way for you to view your experiences in a new light.
You Can Be Honest With Each Other
If you’re new to therapy, you may feel a bit anxious about this new experience. However, an ideal therapist will provide validating emotional feedback and offer new techniques you can try outside of the session and then talk about at your next session. All in all, a good counselor or therapist will make it easy, to be honest about your feelings, and this process goes both ways. Your therapist should also be open to any feedback you provide them.
A Good Therapist Loves Helping Others
A therapist should be passionate about helping others. If you sense that your therapist doesn’t enjoy what they’re doing or is focused on helping you, then you may have a poor experience. In addition, you may feel a bit more closed off and not as inclined to share or relax.
They Are Reliable and Open
When you first start therapy, a good therapist will outline your goals and provide you with cancellation policies and other administrative concerns. If they have to cancel, they will do so in advance and be on time for their sessions.
Therapy can be an effective and life-changing tool when you see a therapist that is excellent at what they do. The previous tips will give you a start on seeking the ideal therapist for your unique situation. These tips can also help if you are looking for a new therapist. At LGBTQ and ALL, we encourage you to find the right therapist for your needs.
Be sure to visit our resource that puts you in touch with a qualified LGBTQ+ therapist.