I wish more people would ask these questions.
In my years as a Vancouver-based counsellor, I’ve come to a few conclusions about client characteristics and actions which work well with my particular therapy style and approach.
On the most fundamental level, much of this comes down to the therapeutic fit.
Fit is a subjective thing and it doesn’t mean that there is something wrong with you, or me, if we don’t gel. It’s never a personal thing but it is an ethical thing: it would not be right to begin counselling if I suspect that we’re not well-matched. And, sometimes assessing fit takes a few sessions. We don’t always know right away.
If you see yourself in the following points, the odds of us working well together are increased:
I rarely start off with clients who are in an acute crisis. This is often because those that choose to work with me frequently do so because they want to work on deeper issues that would promote more systemic change. This is not to say that crises don’t occur in clients’ lives. They can, and we navigate them together.
My clients are thoughtful and most of them have done extensive research to find a counsellor. Those who have chosen me have often read through my website thoroughly and many have shared that they get a good sense of who I am, through my words.
My clients have a sense of humour and enjoy a good laugh in therapy, when appropriate. I believe therapy should be a healthy blend of depth and levity.
My clients respect my experience as a therapist but don’t show deference. And while I have deep respect for those who have pursued PhDs, I don’t have a doctorate and clients call me by my first name. Therapy is a collaboration, not a lesson.
I’m all for goals, and I’ll regularly ask about them, but I also believe that the heart of therapy should be relational. Much of growth happens by opening up, relaxing one’s nervous system in the presence of another human and feeling safe. Such moments are often a departure from encounters we’ve had with others in our past, especially if these relationships were toxic or damaging.
I’m not a super-structured therapist as I believe that the power ultimately lies with the client. I believe that you prioritize what you want to talk about and I meet you there with presence, questions and acceptance. And I love to throw in some resources to augment your therapy, too, if you’re interested!
I’ve been told by my clients that I have a friendly, gentle and down-to-earth manner. If you are seeking to be challenged in your therapy, or have your beliefs confronted in your sessions, I may not be the best therapist for you, particularly if you’re wanting this right away. I view challenge as a natural evolution of trust in the therapeutic relationship, and not a “straight off the mark” intervention.
My clients understand that if they would like to provide feedback about their sessions I am very open to hearing it! In fact, feedback of any sort is used to help tailor your therapy experience or make changes to better your experience in counselling.
If my words resonate for you, I invite you to schedule a free 15-minute consultation to help you confirm whether we would work well together.