Madissyn Fredericks, Licensed Professional Counselor, Symmetry Counseling
As therapists, our goals include making sure our clients feel heard, understood, validated, and safe during our sessions. We work together with our clients towards a common goal and give our clients the tools they need to better cope with stressors in their lives and relationships. While we strive to make sure our clients have a positive experience with therapy, there may be times that you don’t feel heard, understood, or validated by your therapist. It can be easy to assume your therapist has all the answers and rely on them to make the decisions throughout the treatment process, but your voice and opinions are incredibly important. As the consumer in the relationship, it is your responsibility to look out for yourself and be an active participant in your own therapy. When you feel you are not getting your needs met in therapy, try some of the points below or begin considering a therapist that does meet your needs and makes you feel safe and understood.
1. Make a List of Your Goals
When you begin therapy, take some time to consider what you would like to get out of therapy. It is helpful to make a list of what you would like your goals to be and communicate them with your therapist during your first session. Throughout your time in therapy, you can then refer to your list when you feel your needs aren’t being met see where your therapy could improve.
2. Speak up
It can be easy to tell yourself that your therapist has all the answers to your problems. The truth is, no one knows you better than YOU. While therapists may know how to treat certain mental health problems, we don’t know what you are experiencing unless you tell us. Therefore, it is important to speak up and use communication tactics such as “I statements” to convey what your needs are and when they aren’t getting met. For example, you might say, “ I have been feeling like we haven’t been on the same page regarding my anxiety. Would it be alright if we talked about this?”. Using good communication tactics such as “I statements” helps open up the conversation in a way that is less critical and more productive.
3. Consider Alternative Options
Once you have effectively communicated your needs and concerns to your therapist, give it some time to see if you feel a change in treatment. If you do not feel things have shifted in the direction you would like and you are not feeling validated or understood, it might be in your best interest to consider another therapist. While it may feel discouraging to have to “start all over again” with another therapist, it may be what you need to do to get the experience and outcome you are looking for. It can be intimidating to bring up concerns or ask questions, but do it for yourself and you will see more success in therapy if you do.
If you are having a difficult time communicating your needs and concerns with your therapist, try some of these techniques. If you still feel like your needs are not being met, you may want to consider finding a therapist that is a better fit for you. If you are currently looking for a therapist, contact Symmetry Counseling at 312-578-9990 to get set up with one of our very skilled therapists today!