What do I need in a therapist?
This question was asked of me today by my current therapist who will be retiring in June. I only had one response at the time but I have been thinking about it a lot and wondered what you all think is important in a therapist ESPECIALLY if you are dealing with trauma.
For me? Number 1 is believing me. This should be obvious but I am exceptionally intuitive and feel when I am not being believed. Beyond intuition which could be wrong at times, I have had social workers leave my home after my mother made herself look perfect and made me look like a troubled youngster that “nothing has ever helped”. I had another therapist only 3 years ago actually ask me to collect and give her copies of my school records so she could see if there was any proof of what I was telling her. Yes. I am serious and the list is FAR longer than that. The list of people who have looked at my past and turned away is FAR longer than the list of people who have truly heard me and saw the truth for themselves. It has always been there but you have to look past the rosy exterior that my mother presented.
A side note… I will always be honest with you so please NEVER lie to me. Not even about something little.
Number 2. To really listen. To actually hear me. To give what I say some weight. My words meant nothing for so much of my life that I need to know that I actually reach someone when I reach out.
Number 3. To trust my opinion when discussing what I need. If the therapist thinks I need a group setting and I don’t? We can discuss it like 2 adults. One adult who has experience, education and a valued outside view and one adult who lives in this body and mind every single day and knows it better than anyone. A team effort. Not the “I know what is best for you” that is far more normal.
Number 4. This person must see through my bullshit. I never lie (AT ALL – just ask my current therapist or friends LOL) BUT I can sit in a therapy appointment with a smile on my face, the right words on my tongue, totally put together and look as though I don’t even need therapy. I developed that mask because I had to. I needed to survive. It is not that I do not want to lower the mask. I do but I need help to do it. On the days when I am the happiest and most charming are usually the days that I am just about dying inside. The tears, the pain, the disappointment is underneath if you just dig a little for it.
Number 5. Share a bit with me. I am telling you details of my life that are the deepest parts of me. You can at least tell me that you have kids or a husband that ticks you off now and then. I don’t need any nitty-gritty. Just be a human being rather than a robot.
That is my short list. The top 5. Do you have anything to add? What is important to you?