The therapeutic space is unique in that it is able to flourish and be most successful when the relationship and bond between patient and provider is trusting and strong. However, we as therapists understand that it can often be difficult as a patient to advocate for yourself and your needs in order to create a space that will provide you with the best possible environment for you to benefit from your therapeutic relationship. It can be intimidating to speak up for yourself, especially with a trained professional. But the mutual goal of therapy is always to help you as the patient, which occasionally may require speaking up. Below find some tips about how to approach these conversations:
1) Don’t be afraid to give your therapist feedback (good or bad!): Therapy is one of the few professional environments that mutually benefits from open and honest feedback. Practicing having these types of conversations about what is working and helpful, and what is not so helpful goes so far not only for you as a client, but also for us as therapists! Don’t be afraid to share these comments with your therapist whether it be your first session or even well into your therapeutic relationship.
2) Have a conversation about values if one hasn’t been had yet: Conversations about your specific core values and beliefs can be difficult and uncomfortable conversations to have in everyday life and some individuals have been taught that having these types of conversations in certain social and professional settings is considered “impolite”. However, for many individuals, these conversations can often make the difference between feeling safe or unsafe, understood or misunderstood. If this feels like an important conversation for you to have with your therapist in order for your care to be centered around your safety, comfort, and trust in your therapist, don’t be afraid to create space for these conversations.
3) Being selective about your therapist isn’t a bad thing: Picking the right therapist can often be a tricky (and sometimes exhaustive) process. While it may not feel like the perfect fit right away, and it is sometimes encouraged to give it a session or two before making a decision about whether you want to move forward, it is also recommended to follow your gut. It will be hard to do the often difficult and uncomfortable work that is necessary in order to see and feel the growth and change therapy can offer if you do not feel safe and trusting in your therapeutic relationship. Don’t be afraid to move on if your therapist doesn’t feel like the right fit for you. Don’t worry, we won’t take it personally, we just want the best for you and your journey!
By: Selina Delgado Schultz
Mental Health Counseling Intern
Image Credit: Manchester CCGs