It's an important decision, choosing a therapist. Here are the last four tips you'll ever need.
- TEST RUN Buy a session and see how you feel. There are a lot of people doing psychotherapy in New York City. Would you want this person on a cross country road trip? Do you feel pulled toward aliveness and clarity? Do you feel hopeful? Some therapists (me) offer a free first consult because they realize how important "fit" is. Fit is the interplay of inner worlds, yours and the therapist's. Ask yourself how the call and response is going. In dating we would call it "chemistry."
- BURNT OUT VS. EXPERIENCED We all want someone who knows everything about us already so we don't have to explain it one more time. And we all want to be our own unique, irreplaceable self. You want someone who can read a map, not someone who thinks s/he's already seen where you are headed and is already bored. I can assure you that given the infinite variety of human experience, no one has ever been where you are going.
- KNOW IT ALL VS. HUMBLE Psychodynamic therapists know a process of inquiry. They have that down cold. They don't know the answers, they know how to find the answers. Some say that we know the questions and you know the answers. In a good treatment, there are surprises: you will say things that are absolutely authentic and true, things you've never said before.
- HEAD, HEART AND GUTS CBT is a "head" therapy. It deals with thoughts. Emotion-focused therapy is just that. How you feel is king. Your gut feelings you probably farm out to your internist. Psychodynamic therapy listens to all three. You are a self with a brain living inside a body. Look at the whole picture, not a crop.
Oh and one more thing. Make sure that your therapist has had his or her own therapy or analysis. This is only requred for psychoanalysts. Other mental health workers are behind the curve on this most important part of training.