What I need.

Mask1What 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?

13 responses to “What I need.

  1. Great list! I would add:

    6. To not be neutral. To actively be on my side. To not always try to maintain a professional demeanour when hearing a horrific story. To sometimes say “That’s awful. That never should have happened. They were wrong to do that to you.”

    Liked by 1 person

    • My current therapist does this as did the nurses while I was in hospital. It was so validating and made me feel like I was really being heard. I agree with this 100%!!!

      Liked by 2 people

      • Especially when it’s something you yourself have doubts about. Like “maybe it really was my fault” or whatever, and then the therapist reacts with outrage on your behalf. It feels so good. Very validating, as you said!


  2. Thank you so much for your thoughts! I came back after eight weeks of hospital yesterday and I feel like I spent the whole time trying to explain myself. The therapists didn`t believe me, my words felt like meaning nothing, when I insisted on my feelings, they said I didn’t respect authorities. I went through my trauma again, I’m still shocked…


    • I am so very sorry that you went through that experience. I have been re-traumatized by so many professionals that it just makes me sick.
      I only have one piece of advice for you and one thing I want you to remember.
      The advice – Keep looking and switching therapists until you find the one that you click with. It took me YEARS to find one but they are worth the wait.
      The thing to remember – You DESERVE to be treated well. Asking for good and respectful therapy is not asking too much. You are worthy of that and more.
      Until then, know that the community in here is wonderful and you will be heard, believed, and understood.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. This is good. Although the thought of my therapist retiring is kind of terrifying. I would ask for the opposite of #5 though because I prefer to not know anything personal about my therapists. Mostly I want someone who is a good communicator and has a high level of self-awareness.


  4. thats a great list. all very important. i would add, knowledgeable on trauma or did and dissociative disorders. it should be a given but so many arent. XX


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