Once doctors have finished their basic training they can continue with specialty trainings to become surgeons, obstetricians, cardiologists, and more. This is not the case with psychotherapists. Most Psychologists, Marriage and Family Therapists and Social Workers get basic training plus the equivalent of an internship before they take their license exam. Those who are interested in specializing in specific areas like addiction, bi-polar disorder, eating disorders, obsessive compulsive disorder, anxiety disorders etc. must get additional training on their own.
Connie had been seeing a friendly therapist twice a week for years. When a family emergency occurred she phoned and asked her therapist if she would give Connie some tools to handle the problem. Her therapist replied, "Why don't you come in and we can talk about it." Connie was desperate. She knew that talking was not going to give her the tools she needed.
Connie had heard about the classes I offer in which I teach powerful self-help modalities such as EFT and The Phoenix Effect Process so she contacted me and learned a number of specific ways to deal with her stress and anxiety with confidence. Afterward she began to wonder about all the time and money she had spent over the years with her therapist and whether she was experiencing any positive measurable result from those sessions.
When you meet with a new therapist, it is OK to ask direct questions about his background. Ask what qualifies him to be a specialist in the problem you want help with. When you go to a medical specialist you want to see a doctor who has seen hundreds of cases or be operated on by a surgeon who has done the procedure you are having hundreds of times. It is the same with mental health professionals.
Beware of a therapist who acts like a judgmental parent. My client Mary eloped with someone she had dated only twice, just before her thirty-fifth birthday. The marriage immediately fell apart. As Mary told me about this awful experience, she reported that when she was in her twenties and went for therapy following a romantic breakup, her psychiatrist said, "If you aren't married before you are 35 you never will be!" She took his word as the word of God and unconsciously jumped into the disastrous marriage before it was too late.
The most critical factor in having a successful therapy experience is the development of a positive, trusting and understanding relationship with your therapist that leads to noticeable results and changes in your behavior, your emotions and your life. Don't settle for less.
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