1: The most important criteria for finding a therapist to work with, is feeling you can be totally honest with them. It’s crucial to be able to take a leap of faith so that you can spill your guts. Then you can be real with sharing all that is troubling you.
Therapy requires openness and vulnerability. These are rare commodities in today’s culture. It can be very difficult to reveal yourself.
Therapy requires giving up your control that is most often a part of anxiety. So you must shift your attitude away from, “I can figure this out on my own.” Though control is attractive, ultimately it is merely a false defensive position.
So much of life requires surrendering, letting go, and taking risks to figure out what will happen. Staying in control means you are in love with being the one to know what happens. You really detest any experience of uncertainty. The process of therapy means accepting there is a lot of uncertainty as you move into new actions.
Therapy should evolve into a place where you want to practice new behaviors. Say what is really in your heart and find new fresh ways to think. You want to find qualities in your therapist that will help you do those things. If you have been seven or eight times and don’t feel able to throw yourself fully into the process, then maybe you should consider trying someone else.
Blog Catalog interviewed me and asked, “Doesn’t being judgmental make it hard to do therapy?” I laughed and said, “I don’t really believe judgmental people get into this career path.” You have to like people. You accept the profoundness of their humanity because you have walked that humble path of being a client.
2: I would want someone who did more than listen and nod their head. You want a book or homework that helps you understand anxiety, depression, addiction, or codependency. Even if you don’t read, try to spend a few minutes every day learning more. Information is very empowering.
3: Ultimately the therapy relationship has to become a place where you can practice being more authentic. You need to be able to disagree with your therapist or tell them if you are angry instead of just disappearing. Practice truth-telling with your therapist which will help you grow.
4: It’s important that you feel respected, and this is true in every relationship. You should feel respected enough that your therapist will challenge you to look at things in a new way. If a therapist is only providing hand holding, it will be impossible to grow.
You want someone who challenges you. My favorite new challenging question to ask new clients is: “When is the last time you had fun without drinking?” It has stopped several people into being surprised that they don’t have an answer.
5: You also may want to ask the therapist what their theory of change is. Someone who cares about their profession will have an answer to this question. Currently cognitive behavioral therapy is favored by insurance companies and has solid research to back it up. There are many answers to this question.
Therapy is about growing and changing, not maintaining the status quo. Actually, it’s a lot of hard work. So you need to find someone who helps you do the hard work to push forward.