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Posts Tagged ‘Evaluating Your Therapist’

Because you are in transference with this therapist. That means, you experience the therapist as if he or she is a parent to you, and all of us want our parents to love and approve of us. Your therapist is a stand in parent to you.

In fact, “working in the transference” means to a savvy therapist , that giving their support, approval , validation, etc, is very healing to their clients. Therapists should know this and do this. I keenly remember how much it meant to me to have my therapist value and like me. I have said that her words were “mainlined directly to the two year old in me.” That was so very healing, and I never forgot it, so I do the same for my clients. I work in the transference, meaning everything I say and do with my clients is with the awareness that I am a stand in parent and have the opportunity to re-parent, to heal, the child within the grown up who is my client.

So what you are asking about is pretty much true for all psychotherapy clients, and the stronger the transference, normally, the stronger the need for a loving parent to give the child within the adult client the esteem building care they needed and can still profit from. I hope your therapist understands this. It is why so many people say that in therapy “ the relationship heals.”

I have other blogs about transference. You might be interested in this phenomena since it effects everyone in therapy.

Good luck to you. I hope you are getting what you deserve.

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Here’s another question I’ve been asked about the therapist/client relationship. My answer is “Yes, I think so.”

The job of the therapist is to use yourself as an instrument, and be aware of how you ( your instrument) reacts. If you feel angry, irritated or bored with a client, very likely other people would also. So you use the information you’ve received, by your own reaction, in some manner that would be helpful to the client. The trick here is note your feelings to yourself, think about why the client is probably acting the way he is, and not express your feelings straight out as they are felt, for example, speak your mind angrily. The therapist’s job is to find a way that the client can learn what he is doing that is evoking anger in another person. It’s very important that the client not feel criticized, and to learn what is going on within himself at the time.

Similarly, if, as therapist, you are “tiring” of your client, or getting bored, it is a signal (to me anyway) that the client is not being authentic, or is avoiding something important. This too can be communicated to the client without judgement and in a clarifying way to help the client in self awareness.

This takes skill, more than simple self control, because you as therapist have to know how to reach that particular client.

What you say may be experienced by the client as a confrontation but one that includes having the therapist’s arm around you, metaphorically.

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I’ve been asked how much therapists really ‘get it’ about how much they effect their clients’ daily lives with what they say and do. I say it depends on the quality of the therapist. It doesn’t hurt if the therapist has been in therapy themselves and experienced the power of transference.

Good therapists know very well how significant they are to their clients, certainly want to avoid their clients’ losing them, and pay attention to what they say and do. Good therapists put themselves into a “good parent mode” when they are working, and are careful about balancing nurturing and challenging interventions that are intended to promote growth.  Even the way a phrase is delivered can make an important impression.  It’s part of the therapist’s job not to be overly tired, and certainly not irritable, from their own life.

I often feel as it I have the ‘client’s life in my hands’ knowing full well how powerful my words and actions can be for them. Doing therapy is not a casual business. That’s why therapists are tired after a day of sessions. They have been working hard, mentally and emotionally, to give each client their best.

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 I get a lot of questions about this topic.

The questions come in the form of : “How do I know if my therapist thinks I’m ever going to get better?” or  “Should I tell my therapists things I am ashamed of” or “How do I tell if my therapist is about to tell me to leave?” or “How do I know if my therapist thinks I’m crazy/have a personality disorder/ finds me hard to  work with?” or ” My therapist is suggesting I go to another therapist – is it because she doesn’t like me?” or “I think my problems are pathetic and I should just wise up and get over them. Is  that what my therapist thinks too? How can I find out?”

Questions in this vein are all about being afraid to talk directly to the therapist about whatever is on your mind.  First of all, I want to remind anyone who decides to go to therapy – us therapists are only hired help.  But I also understand that when one makes themselves so vulnerable by baring so much to a therapist, while the therapist of course tells very little about themselves,  it can be an uncomfortable, often one -down feeling situation.  In my opinion it is part of the therapists job to let the client know that they find the client interesting and likable.  I can’t open up to a therapist unless I feel accepted and OK.  Since it is the young parts of ourselves that are being aired , these young parts don’t have  the cover of our adult modes in the world making us all the more vulnerable.   Therefor it’s all the more important to know you are liked and accepted; even parts of yourself that you don’t like very much yourself!

My suggestion is to ask tell the therapist whatever you are feeling in this area of being acceptable to the therapist. Then observe how you are responded to.  If you get any of the attitude “What’s the matter  with you, of course I accept you as my client or I wouldn’t be here working with you.”  In other words ” What’s your problem? This must be about your family” you have got a defensive person as your therapist, an uneducated one, or somebody who has very little empathy.  None of  these traits make a good therapist. You have a right to look elsewhere.

I don’t think much is accomplished in therapy if you can’t talk freely. You should get a warm, positive response, full of reassurance and intelligence when you tell your therapist your feelings. I hope you do.

 

 

 

 

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I have answered a number of questions on Quora; many from people asking specifically for my response.  A large percentage of them speak of  variations on the same theme. They are either blaming or at least doubting themselves about their discomfort with their  therapist or the  lack of success of the treatment.  In each situation, I saw reasons to believe the therapist was either inadequate or downright unscrupulous and unethical.

This is such a set up:  People go to therapy  because they feel uncertain about themselves  or their life in some way, and that in itself makes the them vulnerable and not confident in their ability to critique the therapist. Plus, everyone really wants the therapist to be wonderful and help, even to be a really trustworthy parent figure.  Unscrupulous therapists can turn this to their own advantage in a myriad of ways: from seeing the client longer than needed to make more money, having sex with their client, to using the client to be  their friend. Poor therapy can be very harmful or at a minimum waste the client’s time and money, and it may turn them off to therapy altogether.

Some people automatically give the therapist credence just because they have an office and are in business. Please don’t! Question the therapist and trust your intuition as much as possible. You are not supposed to trust this professional just because they have a degree. The therapist has to earn the client’s trust and you can let that take as long as it takes. It some situations, that trust isn’t fully felt until the end of a long bout of therapy. And that’s just fine.

If you are uncertain if your therapist is useful  to you, it’s fine to bring this up and evaluate the therapist’s response. It can also be helpful to ask another therapist about your situation.  The ‘second opinion’ therapist may want you to try and work the  out your dissatisfaction  with your current therapist – considering the possibility of negative transference – but if you have given that your best shot, it’s really OK to find someone who works well with you. If you repeatedly have the same dissatisfaction, then it may indeed be negative transference and you need to pick your best choice  of a competent therapist and hang in for the long haul.

I have other blog entries and short articles about How to Choose The Right Therapist, what you should get from a good therapist and how to decide if and when you should leave as well, as well  as blogs about transference. Check them out if it would be helpful to you. You  can also write and ask me for my opinion.

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Lately I’ve been thinking about this work, and what the therapist owes her/ his clients.  Therapists often say that they don’t want to be doing all the work, (meaning that the client must apply him or herself) or nothing useful will really happen.  Very true.

However, the therapist must also be working, and working hard, so that when the client leaves every session they take with them something new to ‘chew on’, a new awareness or an insight  they didn’t have before. Perhaps  they have gone through an emotional experience that has created a self-understanding. This is often more useful than then the intellectual putting together of a new concept. For example, crying teaches how significant something is (or was) in a deeper way than thinking about it.

The therapist  needs to connect things that their client said in a previous session to what they are saying today, or show them things about themselves they hadn’t recognized.  Good therapists pick up on things that other people  wouldn’t notice.  Then there is the timing and  presenting of things, so that the client can take in what the therapist is saying.   Skill, experience and intuition come in here. Therapists have to stay on top of their own reactions to things, so they know when something from their own life is influencing the way they feel and react to their client. Having different therapeutic approaches to the same issue is needed – the therapist needs to adopt to their client, not the other way around!

I guess I’m saying some people are more talented about this work than others — and  don’t settle.

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