Richard Bloom MFT 09312
CHOOSING A THERAPIST
"Psychotherapy is a living personal relationship." Harry Guntrip
While formal credentials and an educational history may help in an initial screening for a therapist, they are probably not very useful in choosing one that is right for you. Immediate issues undoubtedly bring you to consider therapy at this time: a fight with your spouse or a breakup with a lover, the death of someone who is close to you, problems dealing with a boss or a co-worker, eating or spending or drinking or drug use that has gotten out of hand, a feeling of constant anxiety, being endlessly down in the dumps, a child who is in trouble, a son or daughter who is having trouble leaving home, an aging parent, an approaching wedding, an impending divorce. Sometimes these difficulties reactivate concerns and conflicts that stem from childhood trauma. Sometimes it is simply that life's pressures are overwhelming. When you are in turmoil, you look for relief. And surprisingly, it is often at that time that positive changes are nearest at hand. Transformation does not begin amidst certainty and stability but when things feel most chaotic.
So it is difficult to know who is going to be most helpful to you. If you have any specific needs or requests, it is best to put them on the table immediately. Perhaps you are looking for someone who works well with couples or has experience with addiction or is skilled in dealing with sexual abuse. Perhaps you want someone who has a particular religious orientation, maybe someone who has experience with issues of grieving, maybe someone with a particular sexual orientation. If any of these are essential, it is best to narrow the field quickly. But probably the best way to decide which therapist is going to be the right one for you is to work together, to have a session or two. It may seem like an expensive way to shop around, but a chat on the phone will give you only a vague idea of what to expect. Recommendations from friends or family might be useful, but think twice about going to a therapist who is seeing someone close to you. Therapy is an intimate relationship and sharing a therapist may prove to be awkward, embarrassing, or even inhibiting. Don't hesitate to be straightforward and frank with a therapist about your search. It is a normal part of the process to "shop around" before you settle on someone, and it is your welfare that is most important.
On my homepage I quote Harry Guntrip who says, "Every human being is a unique individual person. Psychotherapeutic success depends ultimately not on theory, and not on a stereotyped technique, but on the individual therapist's ability to understand intuitively and accurately this particular patient." This is worth remembering as you interview therapists. If you feel understood and valued, that is an excellent first step.
Richard Bloom, mft, is a psychotherapist with over 40 years experience helping individuals and couples. He has offices in Santa Rosa and Berkeley.
For more information or to schedule an appointment call: 707-665-0846.