Don’t feel pressured to pick the first therapist you meet
Athitat-Shinagowin/ShutterstockThink 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!”
Give yourself more than one therapist session to get comfortable
wavebreakmedia/ShutterstockChange doesn’t miraculously happen overnight. Therapy takes time and work to get where you want to be emotionally and mentally. For therapy novices, the first session is always a bit nerve-racking, but don’t let those first time jitters scare you away before you give them a chance. “If there’s a lot going on it may be difficult to get the actual therapy work right at first,” says Dr. Londoño-McConnell. “We [may] need to stabilize a crisis, get resources for this person, or get a good clinical picture first.” Give your potential therapist at least three to five sessions before calling it quits and looking elsewhere.
Ask yourself if you’re the issue
GaudiLab/ShutterstockAs hard as it is to accept, you may be the one sabotaging your chances of having a productive therapy session, not your therapist. “I think it’s important for a patient to be able to say, 'I’m starting to feel less comfortable being here,' which allows the therapist and patient to determine if it’s the normal process of resistance or if the therapist is pushing the patient before he or she is ready,” says Dr. Tasso. “As you start to hit on some core themes, there’s frequently a part of us we are not aware of that says, ‘Oh, this is a little bit uncomfortable.’” Therapy is supposed to challenge you. Be willing to take a step out of your comfort zone to work through major obstacles before you get to the easy stuff. Keep an eye out for these tell-tale signs that you're the toxic one in the relationship.