How to Know if Your Therapist is the Right Fit
Research has shown that the “right fit” in therapy is single-handedly the most important factor in achieving positive outcomes.
But what does the “right fit” really mean when it comes to finding a therapist? And how do you know if your current therapist actually meets these criteria?
Working with KMA Therapy since 2008, I’ve matched thousands of people with their therapists and have learned exactly how to get it “just right”. Matching you with your perfect therapist is both an art and a science!
Our goal today is to give you all the information you need to know if your therapist is right for you. Whether you’re starting with a new therapist or completely new to therapy, knowing what to look for will help you feel empowered throughout your journey.
- Things to ask and look for in your first session with your therapist
- Signs you’ll feel if your therapist is the right fit
- How to tell if your therapist is the wrong fit
- Next steps and how to handle if it’s not the right match
By the end of this article, you’ll know the things to look out for when you’re feeling uneasy about your therapist and what to do if you do.
Things to ask after you’re matched with a therapist
Why did you match me with this therapist?
When your intake therapist settles on the person in the practice they think will be the right match for you, they will usually tell you a bit about them - and perhaps even their credentials, experience, and education.
Don’t be shy to ask the intake therapist what their rationale was for making the match. Their answer should be comprehensive and involve personalised information about you.
How will we work on the goals I want to achieve?
In your first visit with your matched therapist, feel free to ask as many questions as you want about how they typically work with clients and how they intend to work with you.
Remember, your therapist needs time to get to know you too, so they won’t always have detailed long-term answers right away, but they should be able to give a general overview based on what they know about you from your intake notes as well as initial impressions.
Tell me about your experience in working with my issues of concern
It’s important that you feel comfortable knowing that your therapist is experienced in what you’re dealing with and that they’ve had success with clients before you. Feel free to ask questions of previous clients they’ve worked with (anonymous of course), as well as provide a basic rundown of their training and number of years of experience.
Remember, you are evaluating the therapist too! Therapy is a big commitment of time and money, and you are entitled to ask hard questions to know that your therapist has the right attitude and skills to truly help you.
Things you’ll feel if your therapist is the right fit
Excited for sessions
When the right match is made, you should be genuinely excited for your upcoming sessions. This isn’t to say that therapy isn’t hard work, or that it’s all sunshine and roses, but you’ll have a genuine feeling of excitement knowing that you’re making progress on issues in a safe environment.
The biggest complaint we hear from clients is that their therapist spends A LOT of time listening and no time providing feedback. Honest feedback, reflections, and challenges are one of the most important parts of good therapy. If your therapist is the right fit, you will leave your sessions feeling like you’ve learned something, had a couple of “aha” moments, and made productive use of the time.
Not judged and truly yourself
In a “right fit” environment, we feel free to express ourselves, even when we feel like our thoughts might be weird, self-indulgent, or may not come off the right way. This is because when the rapport is right, we have faith that we are genuinely liked by our therapist and thus, feel comfortable being our true selves. This environment is essential to making progress in therapy and is a sign of a great fit.
Things you’ll feel if your therapist is the wrong fit
If you’re coming out of sessions feeling a sense of mental exhaustion or boredom, there’s a good chance your therapist is the wrong fit. The therapist may be focusing their time on issues that you don’t care about instead of tackling the meaty stuff you really want to get to. Or maybe they’re sharing info in a way that doesn’t suit your learning style. Either way, feeling tired or bored after every session is a major red flag that the fit is wrong.
The energy just falls flat or is awkward
We’ve heard countless stories of therapy sessions that just feel awkward. This is completely possible and normal. Don’t worry, you didn’t do anything wrong and neither did your therapist. Sometimes this just happens when two strangers are in a room alone together and the chemistry just doesn’t work. It’s nothing to worry about, but it is a sign that the fit is just not right.
You’re hiding things or altering your story
In therapy sessions, you may find yourself “editing” bits of information you tell your therapist. Maybe you’re sharing surface-level information at first, or maybe just presenting yourself in the way you want to be seen. This is normal in all relationships, but make a note to catch yourself each time you do this. Each session you should feel more and more comfortable sharing. If you’re not able to do this fully, it’s a sign that the therapist isn’t the right match.
How to Handle if it’s Not the Right Match
If you’ve concluded that your therapist isn’t the right match for you, first of all, just know that it’s totally normal and can happen from time to time. The right match comes down to so many factors that need to be carefully considered, but ultimately sometimes it just doesn’t work. And that’s ok.
The wrong match doesn’t mean you’ve done anything wrong. Or even that any of the professionals did anything wrong. Sometimes it just doesn’t work.
The wrong match can mean that the intake therapist didn’t do a thorough enough job of carefully considering all factors related to you on your journey. But, it doesn’t necessarily mean this.
Whether you’re seeing an individual therapist in private practice or group practice, there are a few things you can do right away.
First and foremost, there’s no obligation to “ask” to leave or give them an explanation as to why you don’t want to continue with this therapist. You might wish to send a note to let them know you didn’t feel the match was right. But you’re totally entitled to leave without any explanation whatsoever.
You can also tell the practice you’re working with right away. Many practices (including us here at KMA) understand how critical the right match is to therapy and will work quickly to get you the right match within the practice right away.
We see lots of examples of people who come to our practice because they weren’t matched with the right therapist in another practice. It’s even possible that if you work with us here at KMA - with an experienced intake therapist, years of training, and a careful analysis of all factors - that the fit with your therapist just feels wrong.
Don’t be afraid to speak up! How a situation is corrected can make or break your therapy experience.
If the practice you’re attending is a large practice that has multiple therapists, you may wish to speak with the clinical director or request another therapist who you think is a better fit for you. Some practices will offer a free matching session to help match you to a new therapist while others will not.
Either way, changing therapists is perfectly normal and many clients do this several times throughout their lifetime.
Whether you work with us, or another therapy group, use what you learned in this article in deciding what to do if you don’t like your therapist.
At KMA Therapy, we provide our clients with a 50-minute intake session with a specialised intake therapist who assesses you to find the best possible match within our practice – based on personality, experience with the issues you’re dealing with, and your personal goals. If you don’t like your therapist at any time during the therapy journey, we offer a free session with a new therapist of your choice. We want to make sure you feel totally comfortable and cared for - and the fit with your therapist is one of the most important factors in achieving your most successful outcome.
Check out this article to learn more about what you can expect from an intake appointment. If you don’t like your therapist and want to know what your options are, check out this article.
If you’re interested in booking an intake session here at KMA and starting your therapy journey with us, fill out the “Register Online” form here. Or you can book online using our online scheduler here.