Soul Wisdom: Having Trust in Your Therapeutic Relationship

In the February 2023 Soul Wisdom Therapy Newsletter, there was a piece called “Going Deep-The Therapeutic Process”. We explored the journey that begins with the decision to enter a professional relationship with a trained clinician who is equipped with the skills to provide guidance and support in the face of life changes and challenges.

Some who enter treatment carry a satchel full of experiences that cause them not to trust easily. From relationship betrayal, to childhood abuse and neglect, from schoolyard bullying to sexual assault, clients may want to unburden themselves by putting down that heavy weight they have been carrying for far too long. They want to be as certain as they can that the therapist will help them unpack the myriad emotions contained within, and that they will feel emotionally safe to do so.

A recommendation from someone you know or careful vetting via a website such as Psychology Today, can begin the process of trust-building. An initial screening phone call is a good place to start. Ask questions about the therapist’s experience in helping people with the issues with which you are dealing. Get a sense of how well they listen as you are introducing yourself and your needs. Inquire about how they create a safe space for clients. Some therapists are offering the choice between in person and virtual sessions. Select the option that feels most comfortable for you. Being in the presence of the clinician can bring with it a sense of warmth for some, while for others, conducting a session from the familiarity of their own home feels safer.

Qualities of a therapist who can be trusted:

• Timeliness- arriving at the appointed time for sessions.
• Good eye contact.
• Non-judgmental approach-even if the therapist disagrees with your choices, they express it in the form of a question, such as, “Is what you have been doing working for you?” and “Can you see other options?”
• Building rapport- as you get to know each other, a sense of safety is developed.
• Client-led goals- in the initial session, the therapist will craft a treatment plan with you to outline what changes you want to see in your life. The therapist can function as an accountability partner to help you stay true to what you say you want to do.
• Cultural competence-is the therapist aware of and supportive of your cultural norms and your religious or spiritual practices that would affect your treatment?
• Affirming and accepting of your gender identity and sexuality concerns-not assuming a heteronormative lens.
• Awareness of neurodiversity and the way it may impact your needs and perspectives.
• Offers a wide variety of therapeutic interventions. Since clients are unique individuals, there is no cookie cutter approach to treatment. If the only tool we have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.
• Focusing on your strengths what is working for you as well as what isn’t.

To the best of your ability, listen to your intuition. If you feel that the therapist is not a good fit for you, it is more than acceptable to say so. If you feel at ease in the therapeutic relationship, invest yourself fully in a positive outcome, doing the work it takes to make the changes you desire. You deserve a healthy, happy life. A trusted, competent and caring therapist is a good professional companion on the journey.

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