When patients are searching for therapists of any kind, they face an important struggle. Not only is it hard for many people to open up and admit that they might need therapy, but then they have to ensure they find a therapist who is both a good fit and an effective and ethical practitioner.
But are there no common criteria that therapists share? How can therapists themselves even know if they’re good compared to their peers? In fact, there are a number of specific traits that effective practitioners of therapy all share, which we’ll list below.
They’re Always Learning
First and foremost, effective therapists understand all too well that their job is one that is continually evolving, innovating, researching, and learning. Good therapists will invariably share in that intellectual curiosity. They’ll find training events for trauma counseling, attend seminars on best patient follow-up practices, read papers on the latest research and findings in their field. In short, they are lifelong learners, and they revel in that identity.
When you encounter a therapist who believes very strongly that what they do represents the ultimate pinnacle in their field, it might be time to look for an alternative because that’s a great sign of arrogance or at least a lack of self-awareness.
Some therapists may take hard or rigid lines in what they believe is right for you to do next in order to help you in your life, but the good ones will always make room for flexibility in other areas of their practice. They understand that sometimes a client might need help at the weekend, or in the evening. They know that some might need more follow-up calls and check-ins. They know this, and it doesn’t matter to them, because they simply want to be flexible enough to meet all the patient’s needs.
They Are Strong Two-Way Communicators
It’s easy to listen to a therapist give advice and think they’re a good practitioner, but how do you know if they’re a good listener? This is the second part of so-called “two-way” communication. Therapists need to be good listeners as well as good talkers. When speaking to you, they need to make the unnerving into things we can face up to and deal with; the difficult to accept news into the tidings that we know we need to hear. On the other hand, they also need to be able to listen and understand patients and show empathy, which brings us to the next point.
They Have Powerful Empathy
Therapists need empathy like a surgeon needs a steady hand. Empathy isn’t just about a therapy practitioner showing care and consideration for patients, but also being able to actively put themselves in that patient’s position and truly understand what they’re going through. When they can do that and can show their empathic abilities, they have the real foundation of what it takes to be a great therapist.
Care for the Detail
They do say that the devil is in the details, and a good therapist also knows this. They will listen to each patient carefully, and not overlook a single detail in their mission to find solutions to their problems and better understand what they are going through. Sometimes the entire key to people’s problems might be some detail in their life that even the patient themselves doesn’t realize is so critical to the issue that they are now facing.
Patients are so close to their own issues that they can’t see the wood for the trees. The effective therapy practitioner pieces together the big picture from the details and shows them what’s really going on.