What if the "holiday blues"
linger longer than the holidays? You've managed to stash that
tangle of holiday lights, but what if you find yourself still mired
in an emotional or relational tangle that no manner of holiday
cheer managed to relieve?
Perhaps it's time to enlist the aid of a good therapist. Don't
know of one?
Begin by asking trusted friends, your doctor, the kids' school
counselor or a clergyperson for referrals if you decide you need a
particular kind of support beyond what they can offer. If
soliciting referrals isn't comfortable or fruitful, as a last
resort you might let your fingers do the walking through the yellow
pages, but "buyer beware." Though you may feel vulnerable, panicky
or even impatient right now, you still need to be a discerning and
The options can be overwhelming. You'll find a veritable
alphabet soup of confusing credentials trailing after many
therapists' names, but mere credentials are not enough. A therapist
should be compassionate and open-minded, but his or her greatest
tool is an ability to co-construct and maintain a therapeutic
relationship with you, within which you can safely explore your
Plan to speak over the phone with at least three prospects and
be prepared to ask several questions. Inquire about their
education, training and clinical experience and ask about their fee
policies. Will you be paying out-of-pocket or using health
insurance? Explore these possibilities.
Also, ask prospective therapists to describe how they practice.
Does what you're hearing resonate with you in any meaningful way or
raise any red flags? Don't ignore the flags. Listen to your gut and
compare your experiences of each of these encounters before making
your first appointment. You'll be the best judge as to whether
someone is a good match for you and your family, and you may get a
better read after a session or two.
You wouldn't buy a car without taking it for a test drive and
the same can be said about your therapist. He or she may be
friendly but shouldn't become your "friend." That said, if after a
couple of sessions you're just not feeling you've made a connection
with this person, ask yourself why and consider discussing these
concerns during your next session. Also, remember that therapy is
not advice giving. Receiving feedback is important, but if your
therapist does more talking than listening, move on.
For some people, one of the most difficult aspects of the
therapy process is making the decision to go in the first place.
They worry they'll be told that they're to blame or are "defective"
in some way-and usually have a hunch that some discomfort and work
may be in store. But a good therapist should "feel" like an
unbiased collaborator who helps you discern what your goals are for
your life and your family and supports you in your efforts to reach
Points to consider:
Jennifer DuBose, M.S., C.A.S., is a licensed marriage and
family therapist in private practice in Batavia. She has been a
clinical member of The American Association for Marriage and Family
Therapy since 1995 and is a featured blogger at
Jennifer DuBose, M.S., C.A.S., is a licensed marriage and family therapist in private practice in Batavia.
See more of Jennifer's stories here.
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