Finding a good therapist for me was frustrating. I found that while there are about 3000 therapists in Los Angeles-all of them licensed, educated and well intentioned-not all of them are right for me. This frustration led me to believe that there had to be a better way to find a therapist. I came up with the idea that by leveraging technology and psychology, a website could match people with therapists based on personality and the probability for a good ‘fit’, which was the genesis for MyTherapistMatch.com (MTM) and MyCoachMatch.com (MCM).
Through the launch and growth of MTM and subsequently MCM, I have spent a great deal of time researching and learning about the world of therapy and what goes into creating a positive therapeutic outcome.
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The research is clear: when there is a sense of safety and trust between the client and the therapist, there is a greater chance for therapeutic change and a mutually positive experience. Trust and rapport do not guarantee therapeutic change, but they are prerequisites. However, without a deep sense of safety, trust and familiarity, change cannot and will not happen. Period.
This is the most profound discovery I have made through this leraning process. It has reinforced the idea behind MTM and MCM and even strengthened it.
The concept behind the importance of trust and rapport in therapy is not new. It has been around for a while, and was substantiated by Dr. Carl Rogers’ work in the 1960’s. Carl Rogers is one of the founders of the humanistic approach to psychology. He noted at the time that the three most important elements in creating real therapeutic change are authenticity, acceptance and empathy:
“The first element could be called genuineness, realness, or congruence. The more the therapist is himself or herself in the relationship, putting up no professional front or personal facade, the greater is the likelihood that the client will change and grow in a constructive manner.
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The second attitude of importance in creating a climate for change is acceptance, or caring, or prizing–what I have called ‘unconditional positive regard.’ When the therapist is experiencing a positive, acceptant attitude toward whatever the client is at that moment, therapeutic movement or change is more likely to occur.
The third facilitative aspect of the relationship is empathic understanding. This means that the therapist senses accurately the feelings and personal meanings that the client is experiencing and communicates this understanding to the client. When functioning best, the therapist is so much inside the private world of the other that he or she can clarify not only the meanings of which the client is aware but even those just below the level of awareness. This kind of sensitive, active listening is exceedingly rare in our lives. We think we listen, but very rarely do we listen with real understanding, true empathy. Yet listening, of this very special kind, is one of the most potent forces for change that I know.”