Therapy is a special tool for all kinds of problems and conditions. For those with mental health disorders, such as depression or anxiety, having a non-biased sounding board to process with can be incredibly helpful.

But not all therapists are created equally. Having the right qualifications is one thing; having the right “chemistry” is another. You may find that some therapists are easier to connect with than others; some may show empathy more effectively than others. Finding the right therapist can be a bit like dating: you might have to meet with them a few times to see if there’s a connection. If not, you may have to move on to someone else.

Below, the compassionate, qualified staff at Crownview Co-Occurring Institute will review some necessary qualifications that effective therapists must have and some red flags to watch out for.

What Makes a Good Therapist?

By and large, the question “What makes a good therapist?” is entirely subjective. That being said, there are some important factors to consider. At a minimum, therapists are licensed mental health professionals who help people develop coping skills for various problems. Contrary to popular belief, therapists aren’t supposed to “fix” people; they help people develop skills to better manage their symptoms or develop healthy coping mechanisms.

A “good” therapist meets state guidelines for practicing therapy, including having a license; however, not all states require this. Therapists also must be accountable to a professional body for the regulation of their practices. This accountability ensures that they meet the necessary standards for therapeutic practice and still receive ongoing training. The mental health field is vast, and new treatments and techniques constantly evolve.

It’s a good idea to look at the website of a prospective therapist before your appointment. Feel free to also ask about their training, specialties, and experience with specific issues or conditions. “Good therapists” may be suitable for some patients, but they may not be compatible with every person.

What Are the Signs of a Good Therapist?

Now that we’ve outlined the basic requirements for therapists, here are some other qualities to consider when choosing you are choosing a mental health professional:

You Can Develop a Strong Rapport

While your therapist is not your “friend” in the traditional sense, there ought to still be a sense of rapport. A good therapist makes their patients feel comfortable enough to open up and share their honest feelings. You should also be able to trust your therapist—that means feeling safe knowing that what you say in the room stays in the room.

You Don’t Feel Judged

Judgment and personal opinions from your therapist should stay out of your sessions. A good therapist remains impartial to your views and experiences as they guide you in making healthy decisions.

Evidence-Based Therapies Are Used

Different therapeutic methods are constantly being developed, while others may fall out of use. A good therapist will keep up to date with the current developments in their field for specific conditions. Their techniques will also adjust accordingly as scientific and medical findings advance.

You Receive Clear Communication and Helpful Feedback

Ideally, your therapist will be clear and practical in their feedback to help you make positive changes to your life. The suggestions for new ways of assessing a situation should not be too difficult to understand. You may also be given techniques to try at home or at work to help improve your mental health beyond the sessions.

What Are Some Red Flags to Look Out for in a Therapist?

You may want to consider looking elsewhere for a therapist if they engage in any of the following behaviors:

Unethical, Unprofessional Behavior

Unethical, unprofessional behavior from a therapist can look like sexual advances, violating your trust by sharing your personal information, or using extortion to get money. However, not all problematic behavior is so extreme. Unprofessional behavior from a therapist can also look like befriending clients outside of the session, giving unsolicited advice, or criticizing you if you want to end therapy for any reason. Any unethical actions from your therapist should be reported.

They Are Frequently Late or Constantly Have to Reschedule

Life happens, and having your therapist reschedule once or twice is not in itself a red flag. However, if this is a regular occurrence, it’s understandable that you start to feel your time is not being valued or respected. For therapy to work, it has to be consistent.

It’s also a red flag for your therapist to constantly be checking their phone or seem to be mentally elsewhere during your time together. Unless there is a previously mentioned emergency, the time you paid for should include their undivided attention.

You Feel Judged or Condemned for Sharing Honest Feelings

Mental health disorders like depression or anxiety can be deceiving. These conditions are good at convincing you that you have no value or worth, that your future is hopeless, and life is not worth living. When you’re living in that “fog,” it can be hard to see the good. Reaching out for help is an incredibly bold, brave step that an empathetic therapist should recognize.

If your therapist shames you for these feelings, insinuates that others have it much worse than you, or does anything else that minimizes your feelings, you should find a new therapist. Judgment and condemnation do not belong in a space that is supposed to be safe and healing.

Reaching out for help can be a scary thing. We at Crownview Co-Occurring Institute commend you for recognizing that you need help and inviting us to work with you. That requires a level of trust in our skills and expertise that we do not take for granted. Our compassionate, knowledgeable staff are fully qualified according to state guidelines for psychological care. We have helped hundreds of patients develop healthy coping mechanisms, practical life skills, and other solutions to live healthier fuller lives. Whether your struggle is with depression, anxiety, PTSD, or multiple conditions at once, we can help you find the right therapist for your needs. To learn more about the benefits of therapy or ask questions about what your insurance plan will cover, call us at 760.433.4357. Additionally, you can verify your insurance information or fill out a contact form on our website. 

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