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How do you find the right therapist?

Discussion in 'Therapy and Medication' started by Tam, Sep 10, 2009.

  1. Tam

    Tam Well-Known Member

    Earlier this week I had my first 'official' session with a new therapist, one I had chosen myself (from a pretty limited list) and am paying for privately.

    I'd already had an initial meeting with her a few weeks ago during which I really carefully and clearly (or so I'd thought) explained what my problems were and what I thought would help, and I really thought that she had got it.

    Well the first session started badly (the first words she said to me were 'you're early, please don't do that in future') and it didn't get much better. All the time we were talking I got a stronger and stronger sense that she didn't really have a handle on my situation at all, and it all seemed to get more and more confusing and started to spin me right out.

    Driving home I couldn't help feeling that it just wasn't going to work and later decided to go with that instinctive sense and not see her again (pretty scary that).

    Seeing as how I was paying and I had some choice in who to see I went back to my 'short list' and phoned around a couple more to line up prelim appointments.

    Had two of them today, and have to say I'm sitting here getting pretty freaked out thinking - shit is it them who don't understand what I'm needing or is it me who has something so major wrong with me that I'm off in la-la land when it comes to getting help on this level?

    It seemed like I was endlessly repeating the same things in a zillion different ways all in order to get some response from them that would tell me somewhere along the way they did at least understand what my problem was. And it felt as if we were talking at each other in foreign languages -my head was spinning with the effort of trying to work out what they were saying to me, and the stress of feeling that I wasn't being heard or even listened to properly.

    Is it me? At this point I'd like to think not, and that maybe you really do have to 'shop around' to find the right therapist - but when three in a row all seem to be talking about stuff that doesn't make much sense to me, it makes me quite paranoid that what I'm convinced will help me actually doesn't exist.

    Has anyone else had experiences of therapists who don't seem to be listening or understanding?

    And has anyone had an experience where they've finally found the 'right' one, what was that like, how did you manage it?

  2. total eclipse

    total eclipse SF Friend Staff Alumni

    My first session with my T was more information gathering abt me and what he his thoughts were to help me. I was frightened at first but he got be to trust him more each time i went in. I agree with you feel uncomfortable with T then looking around to get one that fits is something i would do. Telling you not to show up early not very caring first time out. That being said it does take a few sessions to establish a relationship and the T should explain to you how the sessions will work and what type of therapy theywill be using like talk therapy coginition behavioral theray post traumatic therapy etc
    You should have a clear idea of what therapy will consist of and how it will help you. Take care defininetly look around but remember even the good therapist there will be rough days because of what you are working on. take care okay. I don't think it is all you you need to feel comfortable with your T.
  3. Zola

    Zola Antiquities Friend

    Dear Tam,

    I went through many years of therapy and many therapists before I realised that it was indeed my fault that I hadn't found the right one. I let them make too many of the decisions. I didn't object to many statements and innuendos of theirs. I was too passive (they were the professionals, right?) The only thing I learned from all of them is that you have to take charge of your own therapy. If they can't hack that, strike them off the list. There are all too many unqualified therapists out there now. It's really not a matter of having a degree from a school. You need one for whom this "job" (calling, rather) is the most important thing of their life. If you're in the US, I wouldn't trust any Republican therapist (seriously). But that's not enough to screen the incompetents. Ask lots of questions. Trust your instincts.
    And a very happy weekend to you.

  4. Tam

    Tam Well-Known Member

    Thanks for the replies.

    I guess it's quite difficult, actually make that bloody almost impossible, for me to take a stand on my own behalf in such situations - after all I'm the one asking for help which ipso facto means I don't know everything about the problem - and when they start talking things that don't seem related to what I've said, that scares me, thinks, oh god there really is something wrong with me that I don't know about but they can see it so I'd better try and understand what they are on about because after all they know their stuff and I don't (supposedly).

    And it's not like going shopping for a new pair of shoes - you've got to lay out so much of yourself each time and that automatically means you've got to trust them at least to a point and then all sorts of stuff like not being good enough (as a patient??) not deserving, stupid, having to 'make' them like accept understand me etc comes up,

    I think if I could do what Zola suggests I'd be 90% of the way home and hosed. Even though I have now worked my way through three therapists, deciding not to see them again really cost me. (In fact I'm going to see one of them for a second session, can't get away from the fact that maybe the way I'm seeing them is tainted by too many expectations and fears and maybe miraculously this one might just come right.)

    I suppose what would really help me here is if anyone else has experiences of being in a therapy relationship that wasn't working, whether they couldn't post about how it felt for them, what went on in their heads and thoughts - or maybe after all I'm the only one who ends up feeling so devastated when this happens?

  5. Tam

    Tam Well-Known Member

    Was thinking of posting about therapists and came across this old thread of mine, as good a place as any to say it.

    Update really - since writing that last post I went on with the fourth therapist for another 7 sessions, spending each week in between picking over everything trying to work out how to get help from him. In the end I fired him, he was not only useless but making everything so much worse for me.

    So back to a short list (tip that someone gave me, email as many therapists as you can in the first place, that really saves a lot of grief). Spoke to several, made appointments with two, one of whom made me feel really uncomfortable. The last one - eureka! The first therapist EVER (and I'm including all the ones I've seen throughout my life) who actually not only listened and heard and understood what I was saying, but gave genuine human responses - treated me like an equal, like a person, with respect and friendliness.

    I've now seen him 4 times (last session crap, but I trust him enough to know that can be sorted next session).

    So just wanted to say, not only have I finally (I think!) found the therapist who is going to be able to help me, but also to let anyone else know who's stuck with a useless therapist or is trying to find the right one - KEEP SHOPPING AROUND. Even if you think you can't, or can't afford it or whatever, it really is not worth staying with someone who's not doing you any good. There will be the right one out there, you've just got to keep banging on all the doors you can till you find them.
  6. max0718

    max0718 Well-Known Member

    Great to hear that Tam! I'm sure a lot of people on here will find this helpful. I agree that you have to have therapist that you're compatible with. It doesn't help that you have a therapist with the technical knowledge, but you can't really communicate with him/her.

    Take care