The personality of your therapist is a very important consideration. What you should look for is someone who is “down to earth”; not clinically distant or all-knowing. Your therapist should be someone who communicates interest in you as a person. Your therapist should make you feel as if he or she cares about seeing you get better. Your therapist should communicate strength and determination. Your therapist should talk in everyday, non-technical language and should communicate respect for you and a willingness to be straight and honest with you. You should feel as if you could, with time, trust this person.
Your therapist can be a licensed psychologist, psychiatrist, or social worker. The degree matters less than the person’s willingness to work with you and make you feel comfortable and safe. Therapy is not magic. Therapy is two people working as a team to help one person function better. It is important for you to respect your therapist as much as it is for your therapist to respect you. You will need to allow this person to push you to experience some painful events from the past and present day. This will make you angry. You may even “hate” your therapist at times. However, as long as you respect and trust your therapist, you can tolerate his or her demands because you will see those demands are made to help you feel better.
The financial cost of therapy is always a factor. If you have health insurance and can convince your insurance company that your treatment is medically necessary you can have the cost covered. If you do not have insurance or your insurance company denies the need for treatment, you will have to decide how much a healthier life is worth to you. If you pay for your own treatment, you will be more likely to work hard at it. Mind games are an expensive luxury when you are paying the bill.
Once you think you have found the right therapist, schedule three trial sessions. At the end of the three sessions, you will know whether you chose wisely. If, after three sessions you feel good about your choice, stick with your therapist. If you don’t, simply look for another therapist. However, do not expect to be cured in all three sessions. In fact, you may feel worse. Base your judgment on how well you and your therapist are working together, not on your emotional state. In particular, ask yourself, how well do the two of you handle conflict? Does your therapist understand your issues? Are you feeling a little afraid that your therapist will get you to feel what you need to feel? If you are, that is a good sign.
Once again, please remember that therapy is a team effort. At BlueSky Behavioral Health we strongly believe a good therapist can only empower you to make changes that will propel you to live and feel better. Good therapy involves experiencing a wide range of real emotions, some of which will be very painful and embarrassing. This is why it is important to respect, trust, and feel safe with the person you choose as your therapist. It is okay to get angry and yell at your therapist. This is part of being in therapy in the Borderline Zone. However, when you calm down, feel free to tell your therapist that you appreciate his or her concern for you. Yes, your therapist is being paid, but your words of kindness and appreciation will help you and your therapist to work as a team and ultimately achieve the best results possible.