By Allie Lehr, MA, PLMFT
I began my journey in therapy at the age of 12. I loved my therapist. As a middle schooler, I wasn’t excited by much, but I remember bragging to my friends about getting to talk to a “cool adult” about all my problems. I looked forward to therapy and I saw her through high school and until I moved out of state for college.
Halfway through my first year in college, I went into treatment for an eating disorder. I was assigned a therapist who worked at the treatment center and saw her weekly. I began to hate therapy. I found any excuse to avoid going and after every session I remember feeling awful. She was perfectly nice and other people seemed to like her, so I thought maybe there was something wrong with me, so I stuck it out. Eventually, I got out of treatment and went to a different therapist that was *strongly recommended* by the treatment center. I saw my next therapist off and on for about 3 years. She was fine, and I made progress in my eating disorder recovery and with my relationship with food, but I still felt like something was missing.
After undergrad, I moved to St. Louis and started my graduate program. It became clear pretty quickly that I needed to find a therapist to help me deal with the anxiety and stress of grad school. I found someone who gave me the same feeling as my therapist from college and after about 3 sessions I ghosted her. At this point I had given up on therapy, which I know is ironic considering I was in school to become a therapist, but someone recommended their therapist and I thought I would give it one last shot.
I reluctantly walked into her office, expecting to ghost her like I did the one before that, but immediately something was different. After a couple sessions, I had the same feelings of motivation and enthusiasm for change I had with my therapist from high school. Let me make it clear, therapy was hard. My therapist pushed me, and sometimes I didn’t want to go, but I finally felt safe and understood.
As a therapist now, I always tell clients that our relationship and connection is the most important part of therapy. Research shows the relationship is the single most predictive factor for success in therapy and I see that to be true every day in my practice.
If you have gotten this far, you are probably thinking “cool story bro but are you going to help me find a good therapist?” My answer is: sort of. To be honest, a lot of finding the right therapist is trial and error, but there are some questions you can ask yourself and the therapist that may set you up for success.
Questions to ask yourself:
The bottom line is therapy is effective, especially if you have a good relationship. If there was something that your therapist did or said that made you feel uncomfortable, talk to them. If you don’t think it’s the right fit, talk to them! Odds are they can help point you in the right direction of someone who is.
JENNIFER EULBERG, MA, LPC
Welcome Jennifer, our new blogger!
Jennifer is a counselor at Sandhill who specializes in depression, self-esteem, and grief & loss. Get to know Jennifer as she shares her perspectives on life, contemplates value themes, and offers gentle encouragement.
THANK YOU to Stefanie Pisarkiewicz, LPC for her blog contributions from November 2014 - February 2019!