Finding a confidant to support you can be a challenging endeavor, yet it is completely possible. Here are 3 important questions you can ask a potential counselor in order to find out if he/she is a good match for you.
1. What sets you apart from other therapists?
It is important to ask your therapist about their therapeutic approach–what tools do they have in their toolbox and how can these tools benefit you? Determine why they feel these are beneficial tools. Ask how they’ve seen these tools assist others and how they utilize these tools in their own lives.
2. Have you been in counseling, and if so, what was that like for you?
I am weary of any therapist that hasn’t been on both sides of the therapeutic relationship. How can you truly value something (counseling), you haven’t given yourself? Therapy was a requirement for my graduate program and I’ve seen the same therapist for 8 years now. The experience was invaluable and it has been essential in the work that I do with my clients. It has taught me a number of things. One, your life doesn’t have to be falling apart to benefit from another’s perspective, deepen your relationship with yourself and learn valuable therapeutic tools. Actually it can be more beneficial to do this work when you are not in crisis. Two, I truly understand the vulnerability and at times, anxiety, a client feels when meeting me for the first time and sharing their struggles. Three, I recognize the courage it takes to ask another for help and be open to another’s perspective.
3. Are you willing to share aspects of your life and journey when it serves me?
I am skeptical of any therapist, life coach, or spiritual teacher that is unwilling to disclose some of their personal experiences when it is in service of the client/student. Of course this is a fine line. You certainly don’t want to leave your therapy session feeling that you learned more about your therapist then they did you. However, I have met far too many therapists, “gurus,” spiritual teachers and life coaches that thrive on the power differential that is created when one is the “identified client” and one is the “expert.”
Hopefully the answers to these questions will help inform your connection with a potential counselor, assure a good working relationship that provides you with safety, meets your needs and supports your growth.