What separates a good therapist from a great therapist? Often, these are the things that are not taught academically. Alongside clinical knowledge and academic learning, becoming a better therapist is frequently about nurturing the connections and insights that make it easier to connect with, and support, the people who come to you for help. These are some of the simplest ways to become a better therapist.
- Self-care. You can’t pour from an empty cup so taking care of yourself physically, emotionally and spiritually are all essential to becoming a better therapist. Whether that means regular mindfulness practice, exercise, healthy eating or cultivating strong connections in your life, robust self-care is the foundation of effective therapy practice.
- Being open about anxiety. For most clients, stepping into a therapist’s office can be nerve-wracking, especially the first time. Acknowledging this straight away stops it from becoming the elephant in the room.
- Cultivate authenticity and welcome. The therapy relationship is built on trust so the more authentic you’re able to be, the more clients will feel able to open up. The art of welcome is also essential. Thank the client for showing up and choosing you, show gratitude for your time together.
- Providing value for money. Therapy is usually a service that people pay for and we all like to feel that we’re getting good value from anything we’re investing in. There are many different opportunities to do this, from asking clients what their valuable nugget is from each session, to tracking progress through questionnaire scores for mental health outcomes. Feedback is a gift to you.
- Learning to go deeper. When emotion comes up, clients will often try to push it away or move on to something less uncomfortable. Being a great therapist means creating space for that emotion, so that clients feel able to safely go deeper and aren’t just skimming over the topics it would most benefit them to talk about.
- Do more than just the minimum in terms of ongoing development. The best therapists embrace the requirements for CPD and expand opportunities for learning so that it really adds something to what they are able to offer to clients. Ongoing learning will not only make you a better therapist when it comes to the basics but also be able to bring new ideas, insights and understanding to every session that you may otherwise have missed.
- Be reliable. If clients call, ideally return their call the same day. Be on time and only cancel or reschedule if absolutely necessary – giving a valid reason. All of this will help to build up a sense of trust and security for the client.
- Take a collaborative approach. Rather than competing for clients with others in private practice, look for opportunities to work together and to support practice development and referrals - there are more than enough clients to go around.
Becoming a better therapist means being able to use interpersonal skills, understand how to function effectively as a business and to provide the kind of environment that encourages clients to go deeper and open up in every session with you. At the Grove Practice we’ve developed into a cutting-edge leader in mental health training for professionals and can help you to become the best therapist you could be.