5 Things to Consider Before Meeting a New Therapist or Coach
Who will I be comfortable talking to?
For clients who are coming to therapy for the first time it’s important to consider your comfort level above all else, especially if you are hesitant or nervous. Male, famale, younger, older? You want to feel that you can say every difficult or awkward thing. You want to be able to talk about your sexual fantasies and desires, or perhaps thoughts or actions that you find disturbing. Go for comfort.
If, on the other hand, you’ve been in therapy before and are looking to start again with someone new, you might consider meeting with a therapist who is different from your previous therapist. You will do different work with everyone you meet, because every therapeutic relationship is unique. Pay attention to both your immediate desires (“ I want to work with someone like me”) and also where you feel a quick ‘No’ (“I would never feel comfortable with…”). What’s underneath the “No”? Could this be a growth opportunity? If we are working towards feeling more relaxed in all situations, a therapist who doesn’t immediately make you comfortable might enable you to grow. Are you up for the investigation?
What if I don’t like the therapist once we get started?
Finding a good therapist fit is a little bit like dating. How does it feel? One size, or way of working, does not fit all. Some therapists are more pulled back, saying very little, while others are much more active in the session. You want to feel respect for them, that they can create a space for you to challenge yourself and grow, but you also need to feel safe. You want to feel assured that the location, fee and appointment time, is workable. What is their cancellation policy? You can trust your gut here. If you need to make a change, challenge yourself to let the therapist know that it just didn’t feel like a good match for you. Knowing what is true for you and speaking from this truth is all part of the therapeutic process.
Do I have a goal? Do I need one?
Some people have very clear ideas about why they are seeking therapy. Interestingly, this can be quickly replaced in session by a larger issue that is a little more below the surface. ( I like to hold goals lightly. Meaning, I do think it’s valuable to envision where we want to go and how we want to feel, but equally valuable is staying curious and open to what develops in the sessions. Coaching sessions tend to be more goal driven.)
While some clients have a goal, others come in not knowing what they want to work on, but only a vague feeling that life isn’t what they think it should be. There isn’t a right answer.
Do I want a magic pill?
“Please, just give me the answer!” Like everything else, what you put into the work, you will get out of the work. How committed are you to keeping your appointments? Showing up is half the work. Showing up when you really don’t want to creates an even stronger internal message where you are saying to yourself, “I am worth it.”
Resistence to change will take many forms. You find yourself cancelling a lot. You are not revealing your true thoughts and feelings and therefore feel unconnected in the sessions. You feel stuck and like you have nothing “important” to talk about and want to cut out. The coach or therapist makes you mad and you walk. The choice to work things through in the here and now is always the most valuable work you can do in therapy.
Am I ready to change?
You enter therapy or coaching sessions because you want something to change. Change requires sometimes letting go of certain ideas about yourself, committing to the process, and developing self-love and compassion in order to set down old tools that are no longer working. Maya Angelou says, “ Courage is the most important of all the virtues, because without courage you can't practice any other virtue consistently. You can practice any virtue erratically, but nothing consistently without courage.”
I began my practice, Expansive Therapy, with fellow therapist, Nick Fager. We are conveniently located in lower Manhattan. I look forward to hearing from you!
Megan Murphy and Nick Fager
225 Broadway # 3009
New York, NY 10007