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Most mental health professionals agree that when a patient and therapist really connect, a positive outcome follows. So, what does a good match look like? Since many therapy sessions address confusion surrounding our personal relationships, it only makes sense that we question the relationship with our therapist, too.
When it comes to finding a professional to confide in, most of us have the nuts and bolts covered—location, availability, fees, credentials, types of therapy offered, etc. But, how do we know we’ve found “the one”? While you might not find the perfect therapist, we can (and should) try to gauge the “goodness-of-fit” we have with that person.
Goodness-of-fit can vary from moment-to-moment, and stage-to-stage, so you may experience your therapist differently at various points in times. Some people work with the same therapist intermittently over a lifetime, while others engage with several therapists. No matter your experience, finding a good fit can be a challenge—unless you know what to ask yourself.
These four, straight-forward questions can help you determine if you’ve found a good match:
This is an easy one to answer when it comes to most situations. Engaged, nonjudgmental, empathetic—yes, yes, yes—all objective qualities that make for a great therapist. What does this translate to though? If the trend includes feeling safe, understood, and that returning to talk more will be helpful, these are indicators you’re currently working with a therapist who is right for you. Therapy requires us to dive deep into difficult and uncomfortable aspects of our lives, so it’s crucial to feel create a foundation of trust.
Making progress with your therapist isn’t necessarily about your life improving. It’s about your ability to cope with life improving. Hey, things change over the course of therapy—you might move, become ill, or experience a loss of some kind. But, if you notice that situations which used to make your blood boil now lead to more of a simmer, that’s another positive sign you found the right therapist for you.
A therapist’s ability to own up to their flaws is critical. Like any human being, we have times when we struggle or drop the ball. Your therapist should be able to receive negative feedback from you. Some do this with more ease than others, but we expect it. Sometimes we even invite it.
Your therapist should be able to discuss this uncertainty with you. There’s a range of comfort levels in this regard. The conversation should either confirm your decision to move on or help you reconsider it. If you’re met with defensiveness, there’s your answer. Your therapist might help you realize that wanting to end the work is really about a difficult topic coming up in the treatment. You might decide to stick around or return when you feel more ready.
After you’ve asked the questions, it’s okay to see your therapist on a trial run basis. If it doesn’t feel right, keep looking. That therapist might not be a “good fit” but, with time, someone else will be!
When you think of self-love what do you think of? Bubble baths, walks on the beach, facemasks, or what? Self-love can mean so many different things but when we think about self-love, we have to acknowledge loving ourselves both on the outside and on the inside. The way that we show ourselves love is one of the most important things we will ever do.
How do we treat ourselves? How do we talk to ourselves? What foods are we putting into our bodies? How are we thinking about our overall well-being when practicing self-love?
As self-love defines and redefined itself for you over the years, here are a few foundational tips to think about when easing into your self-love journey.
Don’t we love this one? Loving ourselves has a lot to do with the boundaries that we have for ourselves, with others, and for others. Take time to think about your own emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual needs when setting boundaries that reflect your personal needs. Boundaries don’t have to be big and scary; they are here to remind us that you get to have your lived experience and still have expectations about how you’d like to be treated and what you’d like to feel.
When thinking about your boundaries, ask yourself:
In a world where perfectionism and curated existences have been rewarded, begin to cultivate compassion for yourself. You are a soul having a human experience and it’s totally okay if things are not perfect.
Mindfulness exercises such as Breathwork, self-care activities, and self-compassion, all help train the mind, emotions, and even the body’s stress chemicals to be able to deal with undesired situations. Self-compassion means, can you be nice to yourself? Can you find empathy and kindness for yourself in the middle of what feels chaotic, stressful, or unwanted? Self-compassion means that we get to make mistakes, have our plans not work out the way that we wanted, and we still get to celebrate that we are doing the best that we can and it is enough.
When thinking about self-compassion, ask yourself:
In every sense of the word “nourishment”, begin to learn what nourishes you and what depletes you. Nourishment doesn’t just mean food for yourself; it means that whatever you are consuming whether it be media, podcasts, people, energy, information, etc. all impact the way that we think, feel, and experience life.
Nourishing yourself definitely goes right along the lines of having your boundaries intact and practicing self-compassion.
When thinking about nourishment, ask yourself:
That’s it. Those are the foundational steps to cultivating a self-love practice that you can ease into your daily routine. Come back to these questions often, because like anything else, self-love is a practice and it takes effort, time, and intention to maintain.