I’m in agreement with Brett Kharr who argues that unfortunately we have a strange situation in therapy where there are an almost innumerable different types of therapies to choose from. I think this reflects the consumerist, swipe right, swipe left age we live in and actually makes starting therapy more confusing for clients.
Richard Chessick, a Psychoanalyst, writes that;
“It is the experience of the therapists personality and the encounter with the therapist as a human who is truly present, rather than any verbal exchange, that makes the fundamental difference in therapy. It forms a link, that brings the patient in consistently over years of treatment, even at times when the patient is very angry or upset. (85).”
If, as a client, you are serious about wanting to change things and about wanting to engage in therapy then it does pay to think a bit about which therapist and therapy may be a good match for you. Sometimes you may feel comfortable with the first therapist you meet after perhaps doing some online research or obtaining a personal recommendation. Sometimes you may want to have a few initial consultations with different therapists. As a therapist I would always be more than happy for you to do this. As a client I would advise on being as honest as possible with the therapists you meet about this, as it’s a good chance to gage their reaction. A therapist where you feel you might have to worry about hurting their feelings, may not be the best choice.
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When I began my training the course leader, in one of our first seminars, talked about the therapists needing to have personal therapy and how to choose and get the most out of therapy, said one thing that has stuck with me –
“Make sure to give your therapist hell”.
I have often thought about that statement and have come to appreciate, that I think at essence, its saying how important it is to be as honest as possible in therapy, especially about the things you don’t want to say and especially about the things you don’t want to say to your therapist.
This may feel strange. You may feel your therapist is annoying, a disappointment, etc. What’s useful about this and I believe unique to therapy is that the therapist who has had a thorough therapy themselves won’t take it personally, they will be able to reflect on the bits that may be true, but also may be able to help you think about the bits you may be bringing that you may also bring to other areas of your life. Is the experience of finding your therapist annoying/boring/uncaring or whatever, something you experience in other areas of your life in relation to other people? If so the special circumstances of the therapeutic relationship can be a unique chance gain insight into these recurring patterns as they are happening, not just in an intellectual way but also at a deeper more affective level. It is at that level that I believe change can really occur.
Paul Salvage is a Psychodynamic Psychotherapist trained to work with adolescents from 16-25 and adults across a wide range of specialisms including depression, anxiety, family issues, self awareness and relationship difficulties. He currently works with individuals in our private practice in Hove.