Choosing the right therapist for you is a significant step on the journey toward healing, recovery or personal growth. I say this from experience, personal experience. I've been fortunate to work with a handful of skilled clinicians over the years who have in turn supported, encouraged, cajoled and guided me, as befitted my need at the time. They all came with a personal recommendation from someone who knew us both, so initial trust was easy to transfer, and we were a good fit. When I say "fit" I mean we saw things the same way, sang from the same hymn sheet, navigated the world similarly. And when I read this article in the Huffington Post, written by esteemed colleague Dr. Elaine Aron, thought it time to add this to the resources on my website.
I'm going to focus on a particular sentence she uses about half-way through "There has to be some chemistry on both sides." I totally agree. And to that end, when a client is interested in working with me I generally suggest what's called a chemistry session after we've done some initial exploring on the phone, ensuring match (at least on paper) and feasibility. It's a way for us to be in the same room together and check out whether we're a good fit (although occasionally due to geographical constraints, we'll need to do this over webcam). Even though I may have the right credentials and experience, that all important chemistry can only be measured when we're face to face. Do you feel safe? Do you feel seen (rather than observed), heard (rather than listened to), understood? Is there enough initial trust to get underway? After you leave and have chance to reflect on the session, do you have a sense of being a little lighter, more hopeful, that moving toward an agreed upon goal has some possibility?
I've learned about chemistry the hard way. There was a time when I found a clinician who seemed to be a great fit. When we met I chose to ignore the tiny voice in my head alerting me to a slight "uh-oh." It was barely audible, a whisper in the background, and with timing, availability, location all just right, I thought things would be fine. They weren't. We completed a chunk of work, but I did't proceed any further. They missed something so important as to undermine trust. We had a difficult conversation and I concluded the work early. Great lesson. So I urge you to pay close attention to your experience with whomever you choose to interview - it's worth taking your time to find the right person for you.
If you'd like to set up an initial conversation with me, have a look around the website to get some basic questions answered, then please contact me.
Dr. Elaine Aron - written with the American audience in mind, nevertheless, a useful guide for anyone seeking therapy.