For this reason, taking your time in choosing your therapist may prove beneficial to the achievement of your therapeutic goals. You can use your free telephone consultation to ask prospective therapists questions that are important to you, and get a sense of what it feels like to potentially work with them.
Most of the time, people base their decision on the therapist’s years of experience, area of focus, and what approaches the therapist tends to use. Even though a therapist may look good on paper, there are other things to consider such as the level of comfort you feel when speaking with them. In essence, a therapist’s years of experience should not supersede the level of comfort and connection you feel toward them. If you do not feel comfortable, you will be hard-pressed to feel safe discussing difficult issues and will be at standstill in terms of therapeutic growth.
When choosing a therapist, you should ask yourself if you feel comfortable with and welcomed by the therapist, and if you get the sense that you will feel heard and supported by them. The best way to answer these types of questions is to let your gut instinct take over during the telephone consultation – if you don’t feel comfortable during this time, it is perfectly fine to seek out another professional.
Psychotherapy is an investment of time and money. It also takes a lot of effort and courage to open up emotionally so you can get the help you need – don’t short change yourself by forcing yourself to work with someone who doesn’t feel like the right fit for you.
Many private mental health professionals offer free telephone consultations. Generally such consultations occur prior to engaging in an initial therapy session, and typically last 15 minutes in duration. As therapy can be costly, an initial telephone consultation prior to investing your time and money is advisable as it provides you with an opportunity to see if a therapist is the right fit for you.
A telephone consultation can also be particularly beneficial for those who have no previous experience with therapy. It provides an opportunity to discuss what the process and commitment to therapy look like, what the fee for services is, what your therapeutic needs and expectations are, and answer any questions or concerns you may have about engaging in therapy.
It is important to note that a telephone consultation is not a therapy session. A 15-minute telephone conversation is insufficient time to address the issues surrounding what brings you to therapy in a meaningful way and you will most likely feel dissatisfied with any attempts to do so within such a limited time. Any in-depth personal information should be discussed during a therapy session once the initial paper work such as informed consent and limits to confidentiality are completed.
Although it can take weeks or even months to see improvements from therapy, there are some ways to gauge if therapy is working for you.
When therapy is working, you may experience some of the following:
–You have a strong relationship with your therapist: Signs of a strong bond with your therapist can include looking forward to your sessions, feeling more comfortable opening up, and internalizing your therapist’s voice – when faced with difficult situations in day–to-day life, you begin to respond to yourself in the same way your therapist responds to you in session.
If you don’t feel a connection with your current therapist, don’t despair – keep trying until you find a therapist who is a right for you.
-You learn to take responsibility for your actions: At times therapy can feel uncomfortable when you start to confront some deep issues. This, however, is not an indicator that therapy is failing. Therapeutic progress is made not simply by venting – it includes addressing and intentionally changing how we react, respond to, and experience our world. When therapy is working, it becomes clearer to you which problems are yours to own, and which ones you’ve been retaining that aren’t yours to hold.
-You have a higher emotional tolerance: A great sign of progress is when you begin to notice you have gained skills that allow you to effectively deal with situations that would send you on a downward spiral in the past. You also gain a greater ability to be present – rather than worrying about the future, or being bogged down by the past, you focus more on your moment to moment experiences.
-Your relationships with others start to improve: Although effective therapy is primarily an internal process, our loved ones may begin to observe noticeable change. They may notice a change in your overall demeanor, how you interact with others, or how you handle obstacles that arise. You may begin to approach your relationships (with yourself and others) with more kindness, compassions, and acceptance.
-Your self-care becomes a priority: You begin to pay attention to yourself and your needs. You no longer rely solely on others to meet your needs and begin to nurture the relationship you have with yourself. You feel less guilt when making yourself a priority and are more invested in living according to your values.