3 Ways Therapy Looks Like Dating, According To Therapist


AAs a therapist in New York City, I see patients from all walks of life: students, professionals, seniors, people of all genders, races and economic backgrounds. Most of the time, a patient and I work very well together. Sometimes, however, the therapeutic relationship does not hold up. The reasons may vary. But after years of experience, I have come to understand some of the most important factors in finding the right therapist.

Before talking about therapy and dating, let’s talk about the realities of our healthcare system. Health insurance plays an important role in overall access to treatment. Many people cannot afford the out-of-pocket expenses and must use their insurance to pay for therapy sessions, limiting their options. Additionally, many insurance plans can have high deductibles or limit the number of sessions a person can have, making therapy expensive and limiting. It also means you don’t have endless sessions to burn to continue your sanity match.

In addition, the demand for therapists may, in some cases, exceed the supply in a given area. So many people find that the therapists they contact do not respond to them. As a therapist, I can tell you that it is often difficult to get back to all potential patients due to the limited time and energy. But it can make a potential patient feel rejected. All in all, it can be a discovery experience, which you don’t need if you are having difficulty.

Because of these factors, a potential patient often chooses the therapist they can find, leading to mixed results. As with dating, it takes a lot of patience to find the right person for you. It can also cause you to feel stuck with the person you found, or your lack of connection is sort of your fault. None of these things are true, so how do you pick the right therapist? I have identified three factors that seem crucial to me.

The chemistry you are looking for is in fact a therapeutic alliance

When I ask my patients what they look for in a romantic partner, perhaps the most common answer is chemistry. Chemistry is difficult to explain. There is a I do not know what quality to it. I have heard it described as a feeling that you and another person are connected on a deeper level. Finding a therapist can be very similar.

There is significant research into what makes a therapeutic relationship work, and studies show this alliance is the most crucial factor in a successful therapeutic relationship. What is the therapeutic alliance? Most studies seem to indicate the connection between patient and therapist. However, I define the therapeutic bond as a shared understanding and connection between the therapist and you. Like a bad relationship, I have heard many current patients say that they don’t like their old therapists but stay in the therapeutic relationship because they don’t know it could be any different. While it is helpful to discuss any difficulties with your therapist before ending the interaction, it is important to remember that, just like in dating, you can always leave and look for someone you are bonded with. at a deeper level.

Empathy is also an essential part of the alliance. If your therapist doesn’t empathize with you, the relationship probably won’t work. Finally, a shared understanding of the goals and orientations of the therapeutic relationship is essential for its proper functioning. Sometimes a therapeutic relationship can seem aimless. So it helps to enter therapy with an idea of ​​what you would like to go through.

Therapeutic orientation matters (and it’s not a one size fits all)

Many people understand therapy from movies or television, which usually show psychoanalytic sessions, but there are many alternatives to traditional Freudian psychoanalytic treatment.

Determining which orientation is right for you is similar to browsing dating profiles. Most people don’t pick a date at random. They look at a person’s profile to see if it connects to their worldview. The choice of a therapeutic orientation is similar. For example, I consider myself a Acceptance and Commitment Therapist (ACT) who freely uses Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Buddhism, and humanistic and existential therapies in his sessions. You may or may not like it. Other therapists may be trained in psychoanalysis or have training in Gestalt or Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT). There is no reason for you to know anything about these directions, but it does help to do a little research and reading to see what speaks to you.

It’s understandable if you’re not quite sure what these things mean. If you are struggling with the nuances of CBT, ACT, or any other therapeutic orientation, you can discuss the approach with your potential therapist and ask them what it means for how you will work together.

It is important to remember that these guidelines are ways of seeing the world. They are useful, but they are not set in stone. All of them can be effective. But it can help research which treatment directions are most effective for the problems you are currently treating. CBT, for example, has been shown to be effective be highly effective with many mental health issues, including depression and anxiety. However, if you take a good look, there is studies To save most kinds of therapy. What speaks to you and what matches your worldview is much more important.

You can have identity preferences for your therapist

Have you been on a date with someone you loved, but because of the way they relate to them, you didn’t feel very comfortable around them? Maybe they voted for a candidate you didn’t like, had different food or movie tastes, or didn’t understand the culture you grew up in. When we date, we don’t necessarily question those choices. We often rely on our instincts as to what is comfortable about a person’s identity.

Likewise, the identity of his therapist can also play an important role in how comfortable you feel around him. For example, I am an Asian American therapist. Because of my identity, many of my current patients are Asian Americans. When I ask them why they chose me as their therapist, the answer I get most often is that I am “Asian” or “not white”. I think that’s perfectly understandable. Many of my Asian American patients have found it difficult to discuss race with other therapists because of this.

So, when looking for a therapist, it is essential to consider the types of people with whom you feel most comfortable. A man? A woman? A non-binary person? Someone who identifies with the LBGTQ community? A person of color? A person’s identity does not necessarily speak of their competence, just as a person’s identity is not the only factor in finding the right partner. But it is often a reference for most so that they can feel comfortable with their therapist. Without feeling comfortable, real therapeutic change is difficult to achieve. It is important to take your time to find a therapist to connect with, as this can make or break how useful therapy can be for you.

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