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Giving Therapy a Shot: What If It’s Not a Good Fit?

Written by Kara Thompson, Licensed Social Worker

You’ve finally decided to give therapy a shot. You got connected with a therapist with availability that worked with your schedule, but decided to skip that “free 15-min consult call” they offered before setting up the first session. You’ve had a few sessions with Therapist A, but are finding yourself feeling disconnected and struggling to feel like they really “get you.” Therapist A takes a more formal and stoic approach, but you’re starting to think you may be looking for something different. You may not have known it before, but maybe you are looking for more structure in therapy or maybe more emphasis on relatability/rapport building. You’ve heard from your friends that sometimes it takes time to click with your therapist, but after 4 weeks you’re feeling a bit discouraged. “What if it’s just not a good fit?

Therapist A may be the perfect fit for someone, and that someone may not be you… that is okay! This experience is not uncommon, yet a lot of clients do not know that they are allowed (and encouraged) to bring this up to their therapist. Your comfort and trust in your therapist is such an important part of the process. By communicating your doubts or concerns with the therapist, you can move forward in your healing. As the client, you get to choose a therapist that is best for you. Maybe you are looking for a therapist who prioritizes mindfulness exercises and journal prompts for you to complete in between sessions? Or maybe you are looking for a therapist who prioritizes exploring your family dynamics and patterns? Maybe you are looking for a more expressive therapy approach, utilizing movement or the arts? Therapy can look so many different ways.

Personalities

Despite all of the therapist characters you may have seen in tv shows and movies who are crammed up in a stuffy therapy room repeating “and how does that make you feel” 20 times each session… there are so many different personalities in the field. Therapist A in the example above could be characterized by being highly professional, stoic, and a bit distant. This may feel very safe and comforting to one client while feeling a bit stale and unrelatable to another. Therapists are human… which means they come with their own quirks and personality traits that differ from one another. Maybe you’ll find that you seem to “click with” some personalities over others.

Therapeutic Modalities

Beyond the vast differences in therapists’ style and personalities, there are many different types of therapies (or “modalities” as you may hear therapists refer to). Therapists will collect information about what you are coming into therapy for, assess needs, work with you to identify goals for treatment, and determine the therapeutic modalities that will best fit. Some therapists may be oriented with one or two specific types of therapy, while other clinicians may incorporate a range of orientations depending on the client’s needs. While the client is always welcome to do their own research to learn about these different therapeutic orientations, it is absolutely not expected of the client to do so. As the client, you also have the right to ask your therapist about their approach. This may aid in helping you identify the type of therapy that works best for you.

The benefit of Consultation Calls

By finding a therapist who offers a free 15-minute consultation call, you will get to connect with them and get a feel for their style and personality before committing to a first session together. While those quick 15 minutes may not give us complete certainty that it will be a good fit, it can serve as a great initial indicator and opportunity for us to ask any questions we have about the therapist’s style. As you navigate this new therapist-client relationship, it is important to remember that you are encouraged to bring up questions to your therapist even during that first consult call. Some of these questions may sound like this:

  • How would you describe your style as a therapist?
  • What type of clients do you typically work with?
  • Do you prioritize certain types of therapy in treatment?
  • Have you worked with clients before who are struggling with (stressor/problem)?

Remember, an empowered and assertive therapist will acknowledge that the phrase “one size fits all” does not apply to the therapeutic relationship. Finding a “good fit” is imperative to a successful therapeutic journey, and it is important to find a therapist who aligns with that. If you or a loved one are interested in taking that next step to finding a therapist that is right for you, reach out to us at Symmetry Counseling. You can contact us online or by phone at (312) 578-9990 to schedule an appointment with a clinician today.

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