Why do you trust a therapist to have your best interests at heart? Trust is often defined by taking what you do know about a person in order to feel safe about what you don’t know. It’s about making yourself vulnerable in front of a person that you don’t know a lot about. So let’s go through what you can know about a therapist.
You know they have to go to University. This helps people understand that the therapist needs to be trained in what works and what doesn’t. You know they have to keep up their continued education to remain registered with the appropriate boards. This helps you understand that their knowledge is up to date. You also know that the therapist is bound legally to make sure they don’t share information about you to everyone. It also means that the therapist needs to stick to a code of ethics so they don’t put their own interests over yours. You may have been referred from a friend, family member or a doctor, so you know that someone who does care about your well-being trusts the therapist. Is this knowledge enough to trust the therapist? Usually not.
So what don’t you know about your therapist? You don’t know what kind of personality they have. You don’t know just how much they paid attention in University! Did they get passes or distinctions!? You don’t know if this person is going to get along with you. You also don’t know if you are going to feel comfortable with sharing very personal feelings and thoughts about your life with this person. And finally, like any relationship it will change over a few sessions of therapy.
So how do you answer all these questions so that you can be more trusting? Instead of answering these questions directly I think it is important that you consider what those questions mean to you. Isn’t that very much a psychologists answer.
Different people go to different therapists at different times in their lives. Sometimes they want a therapist to be gentle, sometimes they want them to be tough, sometimes they want them to show them tools to work with, sometimes they want to have someone just listen to the story of their lives. Please tell us.
So what matters as far as getting the best therapy? The latest research says that if the quality of the therapeutic information is the same, it is more important that you take on the information that the therapist has to offer, and not that you get along with that therapist. The success of online therapy is a testament to that idea. Don’t worry I’m getting to the part where it has been shown that it is quite important to have a good relationship with your therapist.
In the meantime, think about things from this angle; if you go to a specialist cardiologist to take care of your heart, do you mind whether you get along with him or not? Sometimes you won’t get to speak to him for more than 15 minutes! You may feel more comfortable when talking about your health with him if he is a “nice guy”, but most of us trust the “authority of referral” that says this man is the “best in his field”. This man has medicine or a scalpel and he is practiced at fixing what is wrong.
So it has often been shown that a good relationship with your therapist is important for good treatment. Like any relationship though, this trust can take time to build. When it has built though, then it is easier to take that leap of faith that will help you get over your reservations to particular exercises.
So, if you really want specific answers, here are two. One answer is that much study says that most people suffering the same symptoms can recover by following the same techniques. This means that practicing the tools given is more important than understanding why they work for you.
The second answer states that if you do not trust your therapist then you probably won’t reveal how you really feel. If you can’t do that then you won’t be able to receive the most appropriate treatment for your situation.
In summary, it is important to trust your intuition, but remember that some of the things a psychologist will say or ask you to do might not seem like the things you were expecting. That will usually make you feel uncomfortable.
I hope this information can help you think more about which therapist you chose!