The Wall Street Journal published “Will You Be My Therapist? Expert Advice on Finding the Right One“ on 9-22-14. No matter what you think of the Journal’s politics, it consistently provides excellent coverage about health and medical issues, and this article is worth looking at if you need help with selecting a new therapist. It also provides helpful advice about how to evaluate a new therapist once you have had a few appointments and to obtain the most benefit from your appointments. The author provides insightful advice about everything from what to make of initial impressions, such as how the therapist dresses and the decor of the office, to more substantial matters such as how the therapist reacts to you and what the therapist actually does in the first few meetings.
In regard to the patient’s part of the new therapy relationship, the author quotes a Chicago therapist, Dr. Gourguechon, who notes, “As a patient, it is your job to participate in the process, Dr. Gourguechon says: “You are not there to receive wisdom or a bolt from the sky. You want expertise. But in many ways you share in the expertise.” Dr. Gourgeuchon also provides some excellent tips for what patient’s can to to get the most out of an ongoing therapy relationship, including, “Ask questions. If you don’t understand something your therapist says, ask him or her to clarify. If something isn’t helping, or you don’t feel better, ask why not. Your therapist should be able to give you an explanation” and, perhaps the most helpful information of all in this article, “If you feel that your therapy has stalled, the first thing to do is talk to your therapist about it, Dr. Gourguechon says. Ask why he or she thinks it isn’t working and request an updated treatment plan. Your therapist should take you seriously and not become defensive.” Dr. Gourgechon appears to be a strong advocate for patient rights, and recommends obtaining a second opinion from another therapist if you are not satisfied with your efforts to work with your therapist. She also cautions that a therapy relationship should not feel like a friendship, and, “The therapeutic relationship should be a challenge. You should be learning new things about yourself.”
Dr. Gourgeuchon is a psychiatrist and president of the American Psychoanalytic Association.
The article is available for free online.