Finding the Right Therapist

Lynne Taetzsch Health Guide
  • It’s hard enough to make the decision to see a therapist and to actually get ourselves to the first appointment. I remember how nervous I was five years ago when I made an appointment to see a psychologist about a depression I could not shake. But after an hour with “Dr. Jones,” I felt more depressed than ever. She talked most of the hour and had all kinds of suggestions for me. After hearing five minutes of my life-story, she had me pinned to the wall, a perfect specimen she could identify and fix.

    What depressed me the most when I left her office was the idea of having to see her again, but when I complained to Adrian, he said, “You don’t have to see her again.”
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    “I don’t?” What a relief!

    Of course, many health plans make it complicated to switch therapists, if you have to get their approval in the first place in order to go to one. But it was worth the call to my health plan in order to find another name on their approved list of providers. It was harder to call Dr. Jones and cancel, but knowing I never had to see her again took the edge off.

    “I’m sorry,” she said when I told her I would not be coming back. “I liked you very much.”

    Well, that wasn’t really the point, was it?

    As I left my meeting with a new therapist a week later, I felt great relief and some hope for the future. But if I had stuck with Dr. Jones, I might have given up on therapy altogether.

    Recently, one of our bipolar support group members complained about a new therapist he was forced to see when his regular therapist was away for an extended period of time. “I just don’t feel comfortable with him,” he said.

    “Stop,” we all answered. “You don’t have to keep seeing this person.”

    Finding the right therapist may require two or more tries, and it’s important not to give up or to settle for less. Also, a therapist who is terrific with one person may not work for another. There is a lot more involved than expertise, credentials, and therapeutic style. Like any relationship, there is a chemistry that has to click in order for us to be willing to share our most intimate lives. You have to have a high level of trust, respect, and comfort in order to get the results you should expect.
Published On: January 19, 2007