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What Do You Want In A Therapist?

If you have arrived here, you probably are searching on the internet for a therapist. Many people search with some particular ideas in mind: they want a man, or a woman; older or younger; takes my insurance; is kind, wise, strong; shares my philosophy about life… And the good news is that many therapists have spent a good deal of time constructing web sites to let you know that they are out there and care about you and your well being. That is, if they knew you. They let you know that they can help people with anxiety, depression, relationship issues, eating disorders, work/career problems, sexual identity issues, and on. They have trained in CBT, DBT, Somatic Processing, EMDR, Imago, NLP, and any other new formulation that they can get credentialed in. They are of good will, and you are in need. But, what do you want in a therapist, really, that will make this a useful and growthful experience, that will not only rid you of the stuckness and symptoms that you are plagued with, but will also open up a deeper sense of who you are as a person, a richer sense of the world that you live in, and a possibility of a deeper more meaningful life? A compelling life that you are glad, yet challenged to wake up to every day? Is that CBT? DBT? EMDR? No, it is a person, who is interested, and trained to pay attention to who you are. A person who can enjoy your uniqueness, and how you connect to the world. And who can help you notice how you disconnect from the vitality and the immediacy of your self and your life. A person who can be touched by your sorrow, your laughter, your anger, your humanness, and who can push you when you are not. For psychotherapy, when it is done right, is not about solving a problem, or eliminating a symptom – although those things will happen. It is about helping you to re-connect to the immediacy of your life, and to a fuller sense of your depth and your wholeness. Some people would call it your soul. The theoretical orientation of a therapist who works in this way may vary. No one approach has a full claim on being able to be part of a relationship which is aimed at supporting and enhancing the humanness of the client. It does require good training, but more than that: it requires the interest and willingness of the therapist to be a person with his or her own vulnerabilities, and, who is willing to see the client as another person – not as a diagnosis or collection of symptoms. And, it requires a therapist who can know that NO set of techniques or tools actually is a therapy. And that any worthwhile tool which is used prior to engaging and supporting the humanity of the client, is actually de-humanizing.