Watch their body language
The last thing you want is your therapist staring at the clock or zoning out in their chair while you’re sharing your deepest, most personal inner thoughts. It’s important to find a therapist who will actively engage with you similar to how an attentive friend would. Nods of the head, eye contact, writing notes, and asking relevant questions that dig deeper into the root of your problems are a few telltale signs that your therapist is listening to you. “If I were to see someone and they weren’t having eye contact with me, I would think this is weird,” says Sussman. A therapist who smiles who gestures with their palms open can also help them build a better relationship with you.
Don’t be afraid to ask them what they think
Therapists are constantly asking you about your thoughts on your life experiences, so don’t be afraid to turn the tables on them and ask them for their input. “If there’s any question in your mind about whether they’re listening to you, you need to find out right away,” says Dr. Carmichael. “[You could say something like,] ‘I see you nodding your head, can you tell me what you think about what I’m saying.’” You want a therapist who will chime in with excellent, thought-provoking advice when you need them to. Here’s a list of a few things doctors are too afraid to say to your face.
Don’t feel pressured to pick the first therapist you meet
Think of choosing a therapist like dating. Keep your options open and meet a few different people before you make your final decision. Even better, consult with your parent, spouse, or friend to help you figure out who fits your wants and needs best. “I always caution prospective patients that when you’re having a consultation they should not feel pressured by the therapist to discuss certain topics before they are ready,” says Dr. Tasso. “I always feel it’s a bit of a warning sign when a therapist says, ‘Let’s hurry and have a follow up’ or ‘we must address this topic immediately.’”You want some alone time to reflect and make the best choice for you without the pressure of a therapist implicitly yelling, “Pick me! Pick me!”