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Nov 07, 2022

10 Ingredients That Make A Great Therapist


Starting a therapy journey can be a daunting step on the road to self-healing and growth. Finding the right therapist is an important step in this journey. 

First of all, congratulations for taking the step to supporting yourself with this personal decision and starting your healing process. 

Finding the right therapist for you might take you a few tries, you need to find someone who fits with your needs. This may mean you might visit a few therapists before you find the one that you connect with. Do not feel bad if you move through a therapist or two before you find the one that matches your needs.

Remember that a therapist’s job is not to have all the answers, rather it is to be there in the client’s life and build a trusting relationship to contain the process.

There are many therapists ready to help you on your therapy journey. A professional therapist will focus on one client as a whole person and aim to build a strong relationship with them. 

Now you can ask yourself, what makes a great therapist? 

1. They Have Good Active Listening Skills

Listening is a skill all on its own. A good therapist uses active listening skills to give their clients their undivided attention. When this happens a person will feel that what they have to say is important and worth sharing with the therapist.

In therapy you will need to share many sensitive and vulnerable pieces of information or reflections with your therapist. You will need to feel that your therapist is listening to what you are sharing with their full attention.

Active listening aims to listen for understanding, which means asking questions for clarity and not simply assuming. 

You will know if your therapist is using active listening with you if they are:

  • making eye contact with you and have engaged body language and facial expressions, 
  • they are allowing you to fully share what you want to say before replying, 
  • the focus of the conversation is what you are sharing,
  • they ask clarifying questions,
  • you can feel their full attention on what you are saying.

2. They’re Strong Communicators

A good therapist can confidently communicate throughout the therapy sessions. This may mean that they ask questions, reflect observations, reframe thoughts that you have expressed.

This is all done sensitively and will demonstrate respect for the client. Therapy is a process based strongly on communication between clients and wellness professionals. The communication process is a two-way interaction with both parties actively engaging in the therapeutic bond.

You will know if your therapist is a strong communicator if they are:

  • asking clear and sensitive questions,
  • able to reframe a thought in a new manner with a helpful explanation, 
  • show respect through all interactions, even when challenging you,
  • explain things in a way that you can understand.

3. They’re Not Judgmental

Good therapists have a large amount of empathy for their clients, they understand that many clients fear being judged for their thoughts and feelings.

A therapeutic alliance or relationship offers something called a safe space. This means that there is no judgement from the therapist. 

The therapeutic bond is one of compassion and kindness, there may be times that a therapist will address sensitive or difficult topics with you, however, they will always do this with kindness.

Very often we are our biggest critics and the judgement we place upon ourselves is harsh. A safe space allows the non-judgement of the therapist to be reflected onto us so that we can learn to be less critical of ourselves.

You will know if your therapist is non-judgmental if they are:

  • accepting what you are saying without adding their own opinion, 
  • allowing you the opportunity to explain your thoughts and feelings, 
  • helping you feel that the space is safe for you to express yourself,
  • encouraging you to be honest in therapy.

4. They Validate Your Feelings

Part of us being critical of ourselves often includes invalidating or not acknowledging our own feelings.

A therapist’s job includes validating the experiences, thoughts, and feelings you may be having. These experiences, thoughts, and feelings are all real and should be acknowledged as such. 

When we feel validated it is easier for us to process what we are feeling. Most therapists feel that validation is one of the essential qualities in therapy.

You will know if your therapist is validating your feelings if they are:

  • reflecting back what you have expressed, 
  • encouraging you to take a moment to reflect on these feelings yourself, 
  • acknowledging the bravery it has taken to share these feelings,
  • opening the space for you to expand on the feelings you have brought up.

5. They Offer Flexible Counselling

There are many different theories that inform therapy with evidence-based practices and all licensed mental health professionals would receive training in a variety of these.

A good therapist will be able to integrate these practices into the therapy sessions in a way that benefits you.

You will know if your therapist is offering flexible counselling if they are:

  • asking for you to let them know if something works or doesn’t work, 
  • suggesting a variety of things to try,
  • allowing you to lead the sessions and direction of therapy,
  • able to adjust their approach towards a good fit for you.

6. They Take the Time to Check in with You

A good therapist will allow the client to lead the sessions and share whatever relevant experience you need to that session. Checking in with how you are feeling and coping throughout the session is a good way to ensure that they are offering an invaluable service.

Allowing time to check in with you will help you feel validated and seen throughout the session. This will also often provide an opportunity for you to reflect on the process and progress you have made.

You will know if your therapist is checking in with you if they are:

  • asking how you are feeling throughout the session, 
  • asking if you are ready to explore a specific topic further, 
  • finding out what you want to bring into the session,
  • exploring how the time between sessions has been.

7. They Offer Evidence-based Therapy

There are many peer reviewed studies, theories, and techniques with regards to treating and supporting mental health. When you seek therapy you most likely hope for practical feedback and guidance.

Psychotherapy has many different approaches, and a good therapist may work from one or many practices to provide professional services and opportunities for new insights. One such practice used at One Life Counselling and Coaching is person-centered therapy. This approach places the client as the expert of the therapeutic process.

You will know if your therapist is using evidence-based therapy if they are:

  • continuously keeping up to date with new developments in the field, 
  • a fully licensed mental health professional, 
  • are continuously engaged in professional development training,
  • able to explain the reasons for their approaches with you.

8. They Don’t Rush Treatment

You may seek therapy for a variety of health conditions or life experiences. Each of these will take a varying amount of time to fully work through and process. Very often the nature of these experiences or conditions may be difficult to face and sit with. This means that time sensitivity must be taken into consideration.

You need to feel comfortable with the pace of your therapy and a good therapist will support your choice of pace.

You will know if your therapist is not rushing treatment if they are:

  • allowing silent moments in the sessions, 
  • accepting the pace that you are comfortable with, 
  • respecting your input into the treatment plan,
  • allowing you time to process new revelations,

9. They can Offer Multiple Solutions

A good therapist has many solutions that they can offer up as suggestions. The variety of possible actions is important because there is no ‘one-fits-all’ solution to a challenge. It is more helpful to try out several different techniques to find the one that suits you.

These solutions often utilize different perspectives and aim to be used on a day-to-day basis.

You will know if your therapist is offering multiple solutions if they are:

  • suggest more than one possible plan of action, 
  • encouraging you to look beyond actions that you habitually use, 
  • asking for feedback regarding your experiences with the different solutions,
  • collaborating with you to discover possible solutions.

10. You can See Meaningful Progress and Change with Them

When you begin therapy, the long-term goal is to support your mental health to the point where you will no longer need in person therapy with a therapist.

To reach this point there will need to be reflection, growth, meaningful progress, and change. No one else can decide when this is happening, although good therapists do reflect moments where they can see this progress and change.

Otherwise, these are milestones that you will note and feel.

You will know if you are making meaningful progress and change if:

  • you are feeling more positive about your sense of self, 
  • the circumstances you found yourself in have changed, 
  • you begin using the techniques explored in therapy each day,
  • you feel that the need that led you to seek out a therapist is being met.

To Wrap Up

Ensuring that your mental health is supported is a vital part of supporting your general health. Finding an effective therapist for you will help ensure that the psychotherapy journey is helpful and supports your health conditions.

You are allowed to choose the therapist that suits you as a person, when you are ready for therapy you can begin your search for a good therapist.

One Life Counselling and Coaching has a variety of therapists, mental health professionals and psychologists in Calgary for you to meet. Contact us to make a booking and begin your therapy journey.

Learn more by visiting our website or viewing our profile on Clever Canadian's top psychologists list in Calgary.

I am the founder of One Life Counselling and Coaching LTD and I am honored to lead a team of professional psychologists, psychotherapist’s and life coaches who dedicate their professional lives to helping people to elevate their mindsets, evolve their beliefs and learn to thrive in the present moment.
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