How to find a ther­a­pist that’s the right fit for you


The Hamilton Spectator - - LIVING - GARY DIRENFELD

Q: I tried go­ing to ther­apy but was dis­ap­pointed in my ther­a­pist.

Ac­tu­ally, this is my sec­ond ther­a­pist. My first al­most fell asleep and the sec­ond only wanted me to learn to chant.

I find this so frus­trat­ing. How do I find a de­cent ther­a­pist?

A: Sorry for your un­help­ful ex­pe­ri­ences. Per­haps the fol­low­ing in­for­ma­tion will be help­ful for choos­ing the next one.

Ther­a­pist is a term that de­notes a helper with per­sonal or in­ter­per­sonal emo­tional or be­havioural is­sues. The term “ther­a­pist,” though, says noth­ing about that per­son’s train­ing or ap­proach to help­ing. In­deed, the meth­ods of train­ing to be­come a ther­a­pist, along with ap­proaches to pro­vid­ing that ther­apy, are remarkably var­ied. As well, some ap­proaches have more sci­en­tif­i­cally proven va­lid­ity than oth­ers.

Rec­om­men­da­tions from friends can be use­ful. Search­ing on the In­ter­net can also prove fruit­ful. You can also ask your physi­cian for a re­fer­ral — he or she is likely aware of the out­comes of pa­tients who have been pre­vi­ously re­ferred.

The other thing to con­sider is that as in medicine, there are sub­spe­cial­ties. You want to make sure the train­ing and ap­proach of the ther­a­pist matches the is­sues you are seek­ing to ad­dress. Just as you wouldn’t see a car­di­ol­o­gist for a bro­ken leg, you have to dif­fer­en­ti­ate be­tween ther­a­pists who pro­vide in­di­vid­ual, mar­i­tal or group ther­a­pies as well as the age group(s) at which their ser­vices are di­rected.

Prac­tis­ing ther­apy is some­what like play­ing base­ball. Home runs may be far and few be­tween, although a rea­son­able ther­a­pist will at least have a de­cent bat­ting av­er­age. In the same way, it is im­por­tant for peo­ple at­tend­ing ther­apy to have a rea­son­able ex­pec­ta­tion of out­comes.

So, be­fore set­ting an ap­point­ment, ask ques­tions to de­ter­mine the ser­vice provider’s ap­proach, ex­pe­ri­ence and train­ing and if they are suited to the is­sues you seek to ad­dress. You can also ask about costs and av­er­age du­ra­tion of ther­apy.

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