A Client’s Guide to Psychotherapy

Starting psychotherapy means above all beginning a relationship. Unfortunately, qualifications provide little guarantee that a psychotherapist will be right for you. This is because the breadth and depth of their lived experience matters as much as their technical and academic knowledge, and what matters most is their ability to get into rapport with you and your concerns. If you are someone who presently meets with a counselor or psychotherapist, or who is contemplating it, these guidelines are intended to help you both with your initial choice of practitioner and with getting the best from the psychotherapy relationship.

Be aware: That counseling/psychotherapy meets a wide range of needs in many different ways For example, there is fire-fighting/rescue work, helping you get through tomorrow/next week; recovery work, letting go of redundant learning; and flourishing work, re-inventing yourself, or creating a new piece of life.

That your practitioner is not there to meet your needs but to help you identify your needs and help you find ways of meeting them yourself.

Feel free: To check out your practitioner’s life experiences that may be relevant to your issues. Do they have children? Are they in a relationship? Have they been divorced? Been in business? Worked on an assembly line? had a job in a large corporation?

To ask your practitioner where, and how, and with whom, they trained. Remember in listening to their response, that one of the functions of a psychotherapist or counselor is to model being fully human. Zest, vigor, love, delight, wit and even vulnerability may matter more to you in the long run than their PhD’s, psychology degrees or other formal qualifications, including psychotherapy and counselor trainings.

Source: Edited from A Client’s Guide to Psychotherapy by Denis Postle

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