Two Questions to Ask Every Therapist Before You Book a Session.
Updated: Dec 1, 2022
I often hear wonderful stories of therapists who have positively impacted the lives of people I know. Every so often, I will listen to stories of therapists who have been less than helpful. Rarely, but more often than I like to, will I hear stories of therapists who have been unethical in their practice.
Unfortunately, like any profession, human factors can and do play a part in how therapeutic services translate into the real world. This is particularly true in the intimate relationship that develops between a client and their therapist. So how do you know to pick the right one? Aside from the professional qualifications, there are a few questions I think you could consider when shopping around for a therapist.
1) Have they ever been in therapy?
Why does this matter, shouldn't the years of experience speak for themselves? If your therapist is working with you on relationship struggles but hasn't sought help for their relationship challenges, what makes them think they can help you? Are they above seeking help?
Great insights and techniques will take you far but having been through therapy and coming out the other side speaks to a level of humility and authenticity that sets a foundation for a more egalitarian client-therapist relationship. Regardless of the therapy style, all healing takes place within the therapeutic relationship. Whom you undertake therapy with matters and has implications for your healing.
2) How do they handle mistakes?
Does the therapist deflect and make it about you? Sometimes we make mistakes. No one likes to be called out but sometimes it happens. How the therapist handles a mistake is a great measure of relational resiliency.
Therapy is a bit of a grey science when it comes to input and output, what you put in doesn't necessarily give the expected outcome. Is it because the therapist is wrong or the client is wrong? No, I believe good therapy is more of an art than a science and our common humanity is the relational ground for the creative process of healing.
While these questions won't prevent unethical behavior, they should give you a better idea of who you entrust your healing process with.