I often ask patients when I first meet them what their expectations are in counseling. Many reply “I don’t know.” I regularly spend a few minutes of the session exploring what makes a good therapeutic relationship. Here is what I share:
- You, the client, decide what is a good “fit.” If you don’t feel the therapist is a good fit ask for a referral to another provider who may work better with your individual circumstances. If you had a car and your mechanic was not helping fix the issues would you keep your car with that mechanic?
- You drive treatment with your goals and it is my job to help you accomplish those goals. Feeling you are being accepted, heard, and understood without judgment is a critical indicator of the success in sessions.
- If you feel stuck or lack of progress share those concerns with your provider and work together to determine if the relationship is a good match. Mental health providers have an ethical expectation to help you find a new referral if you do not feel your current therapeutic alliance is helpful.
See this link from Hazelden, a predominant Midwestern treatment facility, regarding the counseling relationship and it’s drive on treatment outcomes.