Finding a therapist that you feel totally safe and comfortable with is very important for your healing journey. In fact, it is one of the most important elements of improvements in psychotherapy.
The Therapeutic Alliance
Adam O. Horvath, PhD, a Simon Fraser University emeritus professor who studies the therapy alliance says research find that a good relationship is essential to helping the client connect with, remain in and get the most from therapy. “It’s primary in the sense of being the horse that comes before the carriage, with the carriage being the interventions,”
Credentials, training and experience are important, the sense of attunement and alignment you feel with your therapist is every bit as critical. While this may not be as true other professionals, such as a dentist or veterinarian, choosing the right therapist and feeling a sense of connection with them can have a much more profound impact when it comes to seeking mental health counseling.
Beliefs and Comfort Levels Affect Treatment
Wishing your dentist was a woman instead of a man will likely not effect the outcome of your root canal. But feeling safer with a female therapist will affect your outcomes. Or believing that only another man can truly understand what you are going through will certainly impact the effectiveness of your treatment.
A woman who is dealing with the trauma of a rape may certainly not feel safe enough in the presence of a male therapist. Conversely, a woman who has been traumatized by a narcissistic mother may only feel safe with a male therapist.
Parents bringing their child in for therapy may specifically seek either a female or male therapist, depending on the specific scenario or issue. A young boy without any positive male role models may need the guidance provided by a male therapist. A female child who is scarred by an abusive alcoholic father may need the safety and comfort of a female therapist.
You Have Every Right
You should never be made to feel badly for being particular about which therapist you work with or for discontinuing therapy with someone you don’t feel a strong alliance with. If you are presently working with a therapist that doesn’t feel like the right fit for you and you would like to explore treatment options please reach out to us. Many of our clinicians offer free new client calls to make sure you feel like they would be a good fit for you even prior to your first session. And, if you are working with one us and after a few sessions don’t feel like we are the right therapist for you, don’t hesitate to let us know. We will provide you with some suggestions about who might be a better fit.
Wishing you well on your healing journey.
Bedford Couple & Family Therapy Team