What makes a therapy successful or not in its treatment? The most important factor in therapy has been shown time and again to be...the relationship between the therapist and his client. Now the quality of this relationship, and therefore of the therapy itself, depends on the therapist, you, and the methods used to help. Let’s go a bit deeper...To help you read, I will use “he” to describe both genders.
In only a matter of seconds, the relationship with your therapist is formed and will impact the rest of your journey together. If you don't feel immediately at ease to share your problems with him, it's completely normal, there is stress involved and uncertainty at the beginning which reduces with time. But still, almost instantly you can feel how much distance separates you from the professional in front of you. If it was your sweet grandmother, you probably would like to get close and give her a big hug...but how does it feel with your therapist?
We have special connections with everyone around us, some we trust and others we don’t. Some we feel comfortable to talk with, and some not...but eventually how comfortable we feel toward someone else really will decide how much we will grow with that person. The therapist is no different, he could be the most knowledgeable person regarding your problem, if you don’t feel at ease around him...it will be more difficult to get over the problems you want to face, because there will be a lack of trust.
Trust starts with a feeling, a feeling of reassurance and reliance, a feeling that someone or something is helping us, cares for us, and will make extra efforts to make sure that we feel better. Trust is at the base of the relationship with your therapist, and what I believe to be the most important link between you two, the most important factor to helping you overcome your problems.
Your therapist is before anything else a human being, someone that laughs, cries, lives his life just as you. Yes, your therapist is a professional...but that is really secondary. I don’t believe his degree, thesis, or title to be his most important qualities to help you.
First of all, your therapist should be caring. He should care for you, feel your distress, and share the joys and pains with you. In a sense, your therapist should become your best friend, someone that always has your back because he loves you for what you are and just wishes you to be happy. I consider this to really be his most important characteristic, because how much he cares is the fuel to your relationship.
If care is the fuel, it requires something to light it and start the engine...and that is honesty. Honesty is a big plus in any therapist, the more honest he is...the more easy it is for you to trust him, be honest yourself...and find solutions to your problems. The therapist is a reflection of you, if he lies to you...you will detect it in his body language, speech, and face automatically...and that will push you away from him. However if he trusts you a lot, you will feel that you can trust him more easily.
If care is the fuel, and honesty the engine, what is the steering wheel? The direction of your therapy is essential, a well-guided therapist will guide you toward the resolutions of your problems, your personal growth, and more happiness in your life. This therapist has the following trait...his happiness growth rapidly with time. That means, he is a lot more honest, calm, balanced, joyful, caring, other focused...and a lot less dishonest, anxious, stressed, depressed and self-focused...in a somewhat short amount of time. When looking into his personal history, you might find that he overcame big issues of his own, and that he is slowly returning to the state of a small child, a simpler time, more amazed at the beauty of life itself, more compassionate toward others, and less focused on his own issues. I understand that happiness is difficult to measure, but you'll know it when you see it.
That steering wheel depends on one important element...knowledge. Knowledge of how he can help you change your problems into opportunities for you to grow and become a healthier and happier person. There are many ways to help you right now, not only through psychotherapy, but through better habits, helping out others, taking more time for yourself...and many many more. While your therapist can have good tools at hand, it’s how he uses those tools that matters. And there is a very good way to know how well your therapist knows those tools...does he use them for himself?
Does your therapist use his own tools regularly on himself? Is he tasting his own medicine? Now this makes complete sense when you think about it. If a therapist tells you to try out playing the role of your father to fix your problem...is he using role-playing to fix his own issues as well? Does he actually do the same exercices that he recommends you to? If the answer is “no”, then it becomes more difficult to trust him, to consider him as honest...and it reduces the quality of your relationship with him. If the answer is “yes”, then he will have a lot of insight, tips and tricks to use his tools effectively. He will have a clear understanding of the change in your symptoms, know when to switch to other tools and adapt his methods to you.
Here at HeadPause, I am your therapist and provide services of home therapy. In the comfort of your home, you can take an appointment with me where we’ll have a very reassuring and honest conversation together, and find ways to solve your problems.
5 December 2017