Therapists Are Unique Individual’s Too

In the past I have written about finding a good therapist.  More recently I shared that my therapist of 4 years was moving so I was switching to someone new.  I am really lucky to have found this new therapist with whom I quickly became comfortable talking to.  I had seen him in a group therapy setting in the past, and so (with anxiety) I emailed to see if he could take me on as a client as soon as I found out my old therapist was leaving.

My previous therapist helped me through so much, and I found her only after a long line of really bad therapists.  My new therapist is amazing, and in the short time I have been seeing him I feel that I have grown quite a bit. These two therapists, while they both have styles and personalities that work well with my own personality, are very different from one another.  It’s interesting to see how they are so different, but both so helpful.

Of course, therapists are people and they have their own lived experiences which help shape who they are, and because of this, they are going to be unique. This is why it took me a while to initially find a therapist that I felt comfortable working with.  It is also why you should not give up looking for a good match. Just because the first few didn’t work for me, I didn’t give up and eventually I found the perfect fit.

A new podcast I’ve been listening to, Your Mental Breakdown, demonstrates the difference in therapeutic styles and therapist personalities.  The hosts, Doug and Meredith, are therapists. Each episode includes a recording of a therapy session with a client, currently called Andrew. These are real sessions recorded with the permission of Andrew and all identifying details have been (seamlessly) removed.  After they play the session, Doug and Meredith discuss what was covered. Doug is Andrew’s therapist, so you hear his questions, analogies, and comments in the session; it is then Meredith’s turn to comment to Doug about what she liked or how she may have focused on something different.

Your Mental Breakdown also has episodes that are designed as a roundtable style talk with other therapists. During the first roundtable, they discussed how they handle completion of their intake form.  It might sound like listening to people talk about their intake forms would be boring, but it is interesting to hear their different thought processes. The client could fill it out at home, in the waiting room, or at the beginning of the first therapy session.  To hear what they say about the different ways they do this, listen to the episode titled Roundtable #1 with Bonnie Rae and John Sovec.

I recommend listening to this podcast, but whether you listen to it or not, I think it is important to remember that in addition to different therapeutic modalities (ACT, CBT, DBT, etc.) therapists are individuals with their own personality and style.  Sometimes they have style that doesn’t fit for you* and sometimes their style can been interpreted in a way that could be considered malpractice**. If at first you don’t find the right person, continue your search until you find the right therapist for you.   

*I have social anxiety and need someone who is nice to me rather than “tough love”. I don’t know how often the later occurs, but I have experienced it more than once.

**My therapist who all but disappeared after I returned home from rehab, canceling appointments via text until I realized that she was not going to see me or even tell me she was not going to see me anymore.  She specialized in addiction recovery, so she had to have known how irresponsible it was to have ghosted someone who was straight out of rehab. Luckily I found my first good therapist and she was able to see me within the week.  

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