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4 Ways to Identify Good Individual Therapy

May 21st, 2013 · 2 Comments · individual, individual therapy, therapy

Individual therapy can potentially be one of the most important undertakings in an individual’s life; so, how can a person find good therapy?

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Here are 4 good ways to tell whether individual therapy will offer what you really need.

1.  Relationship with the Therapist

The most important factor in ensuring good individual therapy is the quality of relationship with the therapist.

Do I feel a good level of comfort with the therapist?

Does the therapist seem genuinely interested in my life?  My story?  Are they on my side?

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2. Therapist Integrity

Integrity is fundamental in a therapist.  If the therapist isn’t honest or forthright, then the therapeutic relationship is not likely going to be very healing.

Here are some key ways to determine whether a therapist is acting with demonstrable integrity.

    • Can he or she admit when they don’t know something?  No one knows everything.  A responsible professional therapist will admit when they do not know or understand something.
    • Can he or she admit when they have made a mistake?  No one is perfect, as a therapist, or as a person.  A therapeutic relationship should be about enabling individuals to move beyond perfectionism to self-acceptance.  If a therapist cannot acknowledge mistakes, how can he or she create an appropriate climate for self-acceptance?
    • Does the therapist hide behind his or her authority?  A therapist should be an open and vulnerable person, rather than an inaccessible or closed-off authority figure.
    • Can the therapist confront you with hard truths?  Not everything in therapy is easy.  Sometimes a therapist has to say things the client doesn’t want to hear.  Does a potential therapist have the ability to do this?  That’s a key attribute.

3. Personal Work

Has the therapist done enough personal therapy to have a reasonable level of self-understanding?  Unless a therapist has insight into her- or himself, it’s less likely that they will have the capacity to have insight into you.

Theory-Driven, Or Person-Driven?

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This matters a lot.  The key question here is whether the therapist can really take in who you are, as a unique individual, or is he or she desperately clinging to a theory, and feeling a compulsive need to shoehorn you into it?  As C.G. Jung puts it,

“The analyst will be assailed by secret doubts [if he is] confronting the human wholeness of the analysand with a theory or technique, instead of with his own living human wholeness.

It cannot be assumed that the analyst is a superman because he possesses a theory and a corresponding technique.  He can only imagine himself to be superior if he assumes that his theory and technique are absolute truths, capable of embracing the whole of the psyche.”

“The Problem of Types in Dream Interpretation”

Jung is asking therapists to take a truly scientific stance: to let in the full reality of the client, rather than viewing the person through dogmatic blinders.

This spirit of openness to the individual reality of the client is essential to good depth psychotherapy, and to good individual therapy in general.

PHOTO: Attribution Some rights reserved  rightee ; Rob Enslin
© Brian Collinson, 2238 Constance Drive, Oakville, Ontario (near Mississauga)

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