A friend recently asked me how to know if she should break up with her therapist.
Apparently, if you don't go to graduate school for counseling/marriage and family therapy/social work, this isn't something that you've probably learned in your life!
It can be hard to find the right person to help you with your struggles.
Not every counselor is going to be a good fit with every person.
In fact, they will definitely NOT be a good fit for some. Knowing this information going into your first session can be really helpful because it is a load off of your shoulders. You don't have to make this relationship work. It doesn't have to be forced. There are plenty of other professionals to check out if you don't work well with this one.
Some people have their feelings about it this way:
"She's cognitive, and I'm more of a feeler."
"He's nice, but I feel awkward in the room, I can't relax."
"She quotes movies that I've never seen and I don't get it."
"I don't think she really understands what I want to work on."
"He doesn't give me any hope at all!"
These are red flags. They do NOT mean that this a bad professional. It does mean that you probably won't maximize your growth potential working with them.
Your counselor KNOWS that not everyone is going to feel comfortable around him/her. In fact, they appreciate it when you are honest about it!
You are dealing with relationship issues already, you don't want to have relationship issues with your counselor too!
Keep in mind it doesn't have to be 100% comfortable 100% of the time. In fact, it probably won't be. You are coming in to do some hard work and that is often very uncomfortable, but having the right person to walk with you through the pain and support you through it can make a big difference.
Here's the magical sentence you can use to break up with your counselor:
"I don't think this is the best fit, do you have some referrals that you think might be able to help me? I'm really looking for someone who..."
and then fill in the blank. Be honest with them, they probably know someone who fits the bill. Do you want more practice in session? Do you want less practice and more talking? Do you want to tackle issues cognitively or emotionally? Do you want someone to talk about things from a spiritual standpoint? Whatever it is you want, I'm confident that there is someone out there who you'll love working with because they work the way that will help you grow.
You do NOT need to be concerned about hurting the feelings of the professional. If they have hurt feelings, then they have some issues that they need to work on. Right now your number one priority is figuring out the issue that you're coming in for (AND finding the best person to help you obviously falls under that.)
Many therapists/counselors/social workers will offer a free consultation to see if you're a good candidate before you have to drop any cash.
TAKE THEM UP ON THIS OFFER. It helps you, but it also helps them too! They want to work with people who feel comfortable with them and work well with them. They like seeing you grow, and if you two aren't a good fit, then you won't grow the way that you could with someone else who IS a good fit.
(total plug here, I offer a free 30-minute initial consultation, and I even do it in person so you can get a genuine feel for what working with me is like! If you want one of those free consultations CLICK HERE)
There are many professionals who are ready, willing, and able to help you specifically. If you don't believe me, type your zip code into Psychology Today and see who pops up! Don't give up if you haven't found the right one after 2 or 3 attempts. I know how hard it can be. The search for the right fit is worth your time. Once you've found that magical fit of the best helper you'll want to hang on to their number long after your issue is resolved. Who knows when you might want to pop back in to see them for something else that comes up?
It can take a lot of tries before you find a good fit with a coach/counselor/social worker/therapist.
Don't give up! Use the initial consultation to feel it out and see what you think. It's also a great idea to check out professionals with different educational backgrounds. You may find that you prefer one approach to another.
Until next time,
P.S. If you want to give coaching a try, please fill out the Contact form found here. I would love to meet you to see if we'd be a good fit!