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Spotting a match made in heaven

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The bond or rapport you share with your therapist will go a long way when you seek professional help

In past editions of this column, when we discuss mental health, we always stress on the importance of getting help. Often, this might mean turning to mental health professionals — psychologists, psychiatrists and so on.

But what if you took a chance on meeting a psychologist and left feeling ambivalent?

The fact is, meeting a psychologist is like meeting a doctor — sometimes, you find yourself wanting to seek out a second opinion.

Not all psychologists are built alike, and it is important that the professional you meet establishes a good rapport with you, because that forms the basis of your therapy. This does not mean you and your counsellor have to be friends (quite the opposite, in fact!), but it means that you are comfortable with this person, believe that they understand you, and trust them to help you get to a better place.

Red flags

Here are some signs that you and your psychologist may not “click”:

1. They pass judgement on you: Here you are, bravely deciding to be vulnerable and open up to another person about your issues, and your therapist acts like those annoying aunties you are always trying to avoid? Yes, therapists are meant to ask probing questions to get you to think, but not at the expense of your self-worth. If you are constantly leaving therapy session feeling worse about yourself because of the judgements passed by your therapist, that’s a sign to start looking elsewhere.

2. They push the boundaries of the relationship: Constantly talking about themselves or trying to become friends with you are red flags. It is a tricky balance to strike, but a good therapist keeps things professional while staying empathetic.

3. They don’t have time for you: Constantly taking calls during sessions, getting interrupted frequently by office staff, or not putting in the effort to explain concepts to you suggest that maybe this person has too much on their plate to invest his/her energies in helping you.

4. Their experience and specialisation do not gel with what you are looking for: Therapists practise different types of therapy, the most common of which is CBT, or Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. They also tend to have specialisations — for instance, working in the area of anxiety, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, child psychology, and so on. It is important to find a therapist who has knowledge or experience of working with the issues you are grappling with, using a therapy you are comfortable with.

5.It is a gut feeling: Sometimes things just don’t “feel” right, though you are unable to pinpoint just why that is. That still is a perfectly acceptable reason to look for another therapist. You are under no obligation to continue with a therapist, if you do not want to, no matter how many sessions have been completed; and therapists are well aware of this.

It is not always possible to ascertain in the first session itself whether things will work with your therapist. And in the event that they don’t, it is important not to give up — you would put in the effort to find doctors to provide second opinions on physical health issues. The same effort needs to go into finding the right therapist for you.

The writer is a psychologist and management consultant. krithvis@gmail.com

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Printable version | Jan 27, 2020 2:09:11 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/education/spotting-a-match-made-in-heaven/article30229458.ece

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