Five Things To Consider When Choosing a Therapist

key-to-my-heartWhen you find yourself in a state of prolonged psychological distress, it can be overwhelming just thinking about getting professional help. Add to this the dilemma of trying to be sure that you’re actually investing your time and money wisely when you finally do choose a therapist. It can certainly be a daunting task, even more so if undertaken during a time of stress.

There are many factors to consider when selecting a therapist and which therapist to use. This article is by no means exhaustive, and these are mostly issues I’ve had in the past when looking for a good therapist for myself, as well as issues clients have brought up with me about their experiences in searching for a therapist. Certainly, there are many excellent therapists out there working in a variety of different contexts; however, to claim there aren’t dangerous, useless, or outright predatory therapists out there, as well, would be misleading people. Here are five concerns I think anyone seeking therapy ought think carefully about before committing to a therapist.

 1. Not all therapists are equal

The first thing to consider when choosing which therapist is good for you is to acknowledge some basic facts: Therapists are people and therapy is a highly personal experience. No two therapists are equal in quality, skillset, and experience. Some therapists are better at dealing with depression, while others will be better at dealing with relationships. Some therapists have a strong moral code (not necessarily religious), while others are moral relativists. Some therapists also have their own issues- a therapist might feel unreasonably envious of pretty women and can’t listen compassionately to a pretty woman talk about how significant her problems are. These therapists might pretend to care, may even do a convincing job of pretending to care, but it is essential that a therapist genuinely cares and does not simply act caring because they are paid to. Your therapist should see you as a whole person, deserving of sincere compassion and understanding.

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Why Your Childhood Matters

A comNosce te ipsummon question people ask is where their problems come from. Why do they have sudden panic attacks at work? Why do they yell at their spouse when they don’t want to? Why do they lie when they mean to be honest? Why do they tell people get lost when they really want them to stay? Why do they choose to spend so much time with people who cannot help them to be happy? Why do they not have the motivation to get up in the morning to deal with their problems? The root of all these problems lies in childhood.

This answer appears surprising to many people, though. Most people tend to assume the reason why they feel uncontrollably sad, angry, or guilty is because of the situation or person immediately facing them. In fact, they often think it is all to do with the person or problem facing them and not anything to do with their childhood at all. The other person or the situation is making them feel sad, making them feel angry, and making them feel guilty (See “Who Makes You Feel?”). They are helpless puppets responding to the behaviour of people and situations around them. The idea that their now long distant childhood had something to do with it is actually far from their minds, if it is even something they are aware of as being a factor in their present unhappiness.

How do events that happened to them so long ago continue to affect them? Continue reading

Philosophical Therapy

What is Philosophical Therapy?

Philosophical therapy is a drug-free, talk-based therapy that is an alternative to modern psychology and psychiatry. It has its roots in Ancient Greece and Rome, with geniuses like Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Epicurus and Galen as its founders and practitioners. In fact, philosophy was the primary method for treating the conditions we now call “mental illness” for over two thousand years.

The Roman physician, Galen, believed one should always seek a philosophical solution to one’s ailment before moving onto the next level of medical treatment. He argued that there are many reasons why a patient might have a headache or insomnia. Galen may not have used the term “cognitive dissonance”, but he certainly understood that some headaches are created by inner conflicts. Likewise, he understood that a good conscience was necessary for a good night’s sleep.

Who should see a philosophical therapist?

There are a variety of problems a philosophical therapist can help you with: Lack of energy and motivation, excessive worrying, difficultly making decisions, relationship problems, settling disputes, loneliness, grief, lack of meaning and purpose in life. Unlike psychologists and psychiatrists, philosophical therapists have no interest in diagnosing you or prescribing drugs. They are just interested in helping you to explore, articulate, and understand your particular problem. If you have any problem that you can’t make sense or has been going on for a long time, then you could almost certainly benefit from discussing it with a philosophical therapist.

What to expect from philosophical therapy?

Expect to be listened to, to have your emotions explained, to be asked probing questions, to hear occasional humorous rants and to be encouraged to answer uncomfortable questions. There will be no diagnoses, no medications, no directives that you must obey. You might be asked to complete some exercises that are focused on promoting self-knowledge and better emotional awareness, but nothing compulsory. It may not seem like much, but just changing the way you think or approach a situation will impact your entire life.

Email Jason at: philosophical.therapy@outlook.com