Finding the right therapist to fit your needs can often feel like a daunting task. Thanks to the Internet, you can spend days doing research about different options in your area or choosing to go the telehealth route.
Some research can be helpful. Finding a therapist that feels like a good match is important. But, trying to know as much as possible about them before you first meet isn’t always a good thing.
Yes, you read that correctly.
In this world of excess information and knowing how easy it is to make assumptions based on that information, not knowing everything about your therapist can be more beneficial than you might think.
Still not convinced? Let’s find out why.
The Benefit of a Blank Slate
When you first meet with a therapist, it’s a good idea to have a blank slate with each other. They’ll know some things about you based on whatever brief history you were able to provide. And you’ll probably know some things about them based on the information you had to look at to choose them.
If possible, let that be enough.
A “blank slate” mentality can actually be beneficial for both of you. From a therapist’s perspective, it allows for more projection, transference, and exploration of the client. It allows you both to spend more time focusing on you and your needs, rather than trying to dive deeper into who the therapist is.
While it might be tempting to shift where the attention falls, it’s important to remember why you’re seeing a therapist, in the first place. When you don’t know much about them, you’ll have an easier time focusing on yourself, too, rather than making assumptions or wondering things about them.
The Importance of Boundaries
In addition to how beneficial a blank slate is, not knowing everything about your therapist actually helps to hold boundaries.
Most therapists won’t talk to clients about their personal lives because it crosses boundaries. You might want to know more about them to establish a comfortable relationship. But, remember, they’re only human, too.
Not only is it not usually appropriate for them to discuss their personal lives, but it could also skew your treatment. All it takes is one wrong word or statement about their life for your opinion to be changed, or for you to make assumptions. That’s a dangerous game to play in a therapy setting, which is why it’s crucial for therapists to be as neutral as possible and focus solely on clients.
How to Get to Know Your Therapist the Right Way
There are some basics you can/should know about your therapist. The things you research about them ahead of time should indicate their educational background and specialties. Don’t try to dive deeper into their personal lives or what they do with their free time.
As you continue to meet with a therapist, they might share a personal anecdote with you here and there. Usually, it’s proving a point or make an example clearer. A good therapist won’t make your sessions about them—ever. As a patient, it’s necessary to respect that and to understand that it’s for your benefit.
With that in mind, it’s important to feel comfortable with your therapist. You want to be able to open up freely and show vulnerability.
So, it’s okay to “shop around” and try a few before you decide on the right one for you. You don’t have to know everything about someone to get the feeling that they’re the right fit. Keep that in mind as you look for your perfect therapist and make sure you’re respecting boundaries while you search.