Can You Help Me?

That depends! That may seem like a strange answer from a therapist's website, however, the truth is that there is such a thing as "fit" and, in fact, there is research that supports that your relationship with your therapist (therapeutic rapport) is what supports the change, growth, and healing process more than modality (the methods and theories a therapist uses to guide the work of therapy).

"I know nothing about therapy! So how do I figure this out?" You may think this whether you've engaged in therapy before or not. Maybe you did a piece of work yet that person isn't someone you want to call now for what you face currently. Maybe you stopped going after a few sessions because it just didn't seem to be working. Maybe you've never been to therapy!

One way to figure this out is through a brief conversation where you ask questions of the therapist. Share the issue or topic you want to address or believe is the problem you have right now and ask about the therapist's experience working with people in your situation or with similar issues. Feel free to ask, "Do you think you could help me and if so, how?"

Ask about timeframe, too. "How will we both know when this is resolved?" While no one can predict with surety the number of sessions or months, specifically, the therapist should have an idea about expectations for treatment. They can't guarantee that 6 months or 12 weeks guarantees any result, however, they can share the average number of sessions with a client with a similar issue or talk about treatment goals and checking in on them.

After an initial call with the therapist, take time to reflect and ask yourself about how you felt about the therapist's answers to your questions. Do you have more questions? Did the person appear interested and concerned with your specific struggles? Do they seem to be like a person you believe you can trust and feel safe with so that you are able to be open and possibly vulnerable with them? Does the therapist seem trustworthy? Did they come across as understanding your needs?

It can sometimes take a few sessions to really determine fit. If you meet several times and things feel off, address that with your therapist. It is possble your therapist agrees and will happily provide a referral. It is also possible that there may just need to be more conversation around your goals and needs and further clarification. It is definitely ok to let your therapist know you don't believe you're fitting well together and gauge their response. This could be an opportunity to build rapport and strengthen the relationship since sometimes therapy feels awkward at first and you just need to move through that start and give it enough time, too.

Therapy requires "work" on your part. Any change is challenging, as well. Therapy can make us feel uncomfortable or a bit "worse" before we feel better. It can be like a new workout routine where we have aching muscles in the days after starting. Be sure to share concerns and any increase in or new symptoms that come up for you as the result of therapy. Like a good personal trainer or coach, your therapist may recommend various coping skills that help you manage symptoms and will provide support and encouragement as you move from recognizing a need for change to active phases to a new way of being that increases well-being and decreases things like depression, anxiety, grief, and stress.