Choosing a Therapist|
By Deborah Reeves, MGPGP, LPC, CGP
Finding the best trained therapist is an excellent investment in one's future. Effective psychotherapy
can help resolve conflict(s) and can greatly assist in helping all people to gain the emotional and cognitive tools necessary
to better solve future problems.
Making a conscious decision to be in psychotherapy is the first step and perhaps not such an easy task
because it can bring to mind the awareness of uncomfortable feelings, thoughts and ideas about the problems at hand and
about being in therapy. It is a good idea to take the time to choose a therapist
thoughtfully and with care. Why? Because it is essential that you feel comfortable and confident with the therapist you
select. It is important that your therapist is compassionate, sincere and genuine but
these attributes are not sufficient in and of themselves. Well-trained therapists are open and able to work with all emotions
for example, feelings such as jealousy, love, disgust, hate, dread, anxiety, shame
and more. It is also helpful when you feel you are being heard. Working with a therapist who has good listening skills and
who responds in a clear, genuine and honest way with out being superficial is
paramount to good treatment.
Well trained therapists also know the difference between 'counseling' and 'psychotherapy'. Being 'counseled'
means giving suggestions and advice which has its place when for instance someone is abusing drugs. More often than not
people seek therapy when they have tried to take friend's advice and it simply
doesn't work because of underlying emotional issues and conflicts that can have an unconscious strong hold. Meaning, that
repeated patterns of behavior and responses stop emotional needs from being met
affecting psychological growth and development. Psychotherapy assists in helping with the understanding of conflicts that
are often hidden, out of awareness so that old familiar responses can be better
recognized, acknowledged, and mastered. Instead of seeking other's opinions or advice patients can develop and resolve
problems in a way that fits who they are and not in accordance to someone else's
Competent therapists are most often open to any questions you want to ask them. It is worthwhile to ask
questions about their training, practice and experience of personal therapy. The last is an important factor in determining the
treatment most likely to offer successful results. Why? Because therapists
who learn thoroughly about their own emotional self will not be biased, and will have resolution and understanding of their own
unconscious conflicts. This ensures that the treatment will be about
your issues and not the therapists. Due to the highly complex and subjective nature of learning about the self(s) internal and relational
world, insight-oriented psychotherapy is best experienced in
order for it to be thoroughly understood.
Over the past decade many academic programs in the mental health field stopped the requirement of students
experiencing their own course of psychotherapy. Instruction into insight-oriented psychodynamic individual and group therapy is
minimal at best. License to practice and 'academic' training is
not synonymous to a sound or solid 'training' in psychotherapy. Today, most therapist's who practice psychodynamic psychotherapy
and insight-oriented psychotherapy have usually gone through an
accredited post-graduate training program which mandates personal psychotherapy and/or psychoanalysis with an average of two to
seven additional years in training.
The following is an explanation of academic titles that qualify for licensing at the state level.
The term 'therapist' and 'psychoanalyst' are not legally defined in the majority of the states of America. Anyone can give
themselves these titles. There are professionals who carry a licensed professional title (listed above) who do have acquired extended training
in psychodynamic psychotherapy and psychoanalysis from
- PsyD's - Doctorate in Psychology with a clinically based training
- PhD - Doctorate in Psychology with research based training
- MSW - Masters in Social Work
- LCSW - Licensed Clinical Social Worker
- LPC - Licensed Professional Counselors
- MD - Psychiatrist
- CGP - Professionals who have training accredited by the American Group Psychotherapy Association will be
registered with the National Registry of Certified Group Psychotherapists, CGP.
It is strongly advised to schedule several consultations before deciding upon the best therapist to work with you.
Recommendations from well known friends, relatives, clergy is one way to ensure that you will get optimum treatment. The system of managed care
signs up individuals who will work for the least amount
of money and simply assign to you someone from their 'sign up' list. Managed care does not interview any of the therapists to whom they send you
so be careful. 'Mental-health' is simply afforded the
least within a huge 'health system' and has done for years and years. Those wishing to preserve full privacy, full control and full protection of their
treatment often elect to pay out of pocket.
For more information on the practices of managed care click on www.ctvip.org.
Five Warning Signs of Unhealthy Therapist Behavior:
Therapeutic misadventures are not uncommon. You need to watch for:
By understanding a little more about training, academic qualification, licensing and knowing more what to look out for and
perhaps what to avoid, I hope you will be better equipped in finding a good therapeutic match.
- A therapist who is silent and removed since he/she may not be able to gain an emotional connection with the patient.
- A therapist who talks too much, preventing the patient from learning to explore his/her own mind.
- A therapist who talks about personal issues.
- A therapist who offers opinions may appear warm and welcoming, but this may have seductive and exploitive results.
- A therapist who touches patients in an unwarranted fashion is also exploitive.