A Letter From Emily Bray, LMSWA of JFS
I hear you’re looking for a therapist.
What wonderful news! I’m sorry, of course, that things are in a way that you feel you need a therapist, but then again, I feel that everyone should have a therapist. If you’ve looked, you know there are hundreds to choose from. How will you know if a therapist is right for you?
The most widely researched factor that contributes to successful psychotherapy is not actually the therapist. It is the quality of the therapeutic alliance. The therapeutic alliance is the relationship that exists between a client and their therapist, and a good one is when the client and therapist have trust and safety in their relationship.
Trust and safety are built over time by the client and the therapist throughout their work together. Here is what to look for in a trusting and safe therapeutic relationship:
An agreement of the therapeutic goals by both the therapist and the client
- Mutual engagement in the process
- Mutual respect for one another
- The freedom to share negative emotional responses and repair after a conflict or difficulty
In other words, both parties need to know the “why”, both parties have to do the work, and both parties can express their feelings and resolve harm or conflict that occurred in session. In any relationship, there will be conflicts or difficulties, also called ruptures. What is important is the repair. Can your therapist repair with you, and hold space for you to repair with them? This can be so important because often you can address old wounds through this experience.
The best part about this, is that there isn’t one therapist who can help you. It’s not the therapist, it’s the relationship that you build together. I wish you luck in your search.
With kindness,Emily Bray, LMSW
Emily Bray is a contract psychotherapist with Jewish Family Services. She is passionate about psychotherapy, the worthiness of humans and the connection between clients and their therapists.
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