What to Look for in a Great Therapist

How to find the right therapist for borderline personality disorder

Caucasian woman talking with therapist in therapy
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If you are coping with a mental illness like borderline personality disorder (BPD), finding the right therapist is essential to your health and well-being. Not every psychologist is capable of treating BPD and you may not click with the first healthcare provider you meet. It's important that you keep looking for the right person that shares your treatment goals, as you will be spending a lot of time with that individual.

7 Qualities to Look for in a Therapist

When looking for the right therapist, these are a few qualities to keep in mind:

  1. EstablishedIf you do a quick internet search for therapists, thousands of results will come up. Some of those people are life coaches or professional advisors but don't have any medical education or professional certifications to treat disorders like borderline personality disorder. It is important that you choose a therapist who is licensed to practice independently, so look for titles after the person's name like LCPC, LPCC, LSCW, LISW, PhD or MD. Reputable psychologists and psychiatrists state their credentials upfront. Look for a therapist trained in “talk-therapy” who also has some knowledge of medication. While only a licensed MD can prescribe medications, a certified clinician can identify the need for medication options and can refer you to an appropriate doctor if necessary.
  2. ReassuringWhile you may be nervous for your first visit or two, your therapist should never make you feel scared or intimidated. Instead, they should provide you with a comforting, nurturing environment where you are able to relax. The practitioner herself should not be authoritative or condescending, but engaging and encouraging. While you may talk about uncomfortable subjects during some sessions, you should always feel welcomed and accepted rather than shamed or judged.
  1. AdaptableWhile many psychologists have their own favorite clinical approaches, good therapists know that every client has different needs.The therapist should not try to fit the client to his preferred line of study. A good counselor works to figure out what works for each person and tailors the sessions to that person.
  2. DiscreetIf you are just starting counseling, you may be worried about running into your clinician outside of your sessions. While it may happen, a good therapist will be completely discreet if he runs into you at Starbucks. He should hold your confidentiality and privacy as paramount and give you specific information about what you can expect in these situations. It is important that you do not end up feeling uncomfortable due to a coincidental meeting.
  3. Open-mindedSome therapists will pigeon-hole you and your behaviors according to your diagnosis, rather than viewing you for who you are as a unique person. Even when dealing with borderline personality disorder, you want the therapist to allow you to be an individual and not assume that they know everything about you.
  1. AppropriateAlthough the therapist should be flexible and approachable, it is important that she consistently maintain appropriate boundaries with every client. There should be no sexual overtures or innuendos, no business offers and no touching that makes you feel uncomfortable.
  2. ReceptiveYour therapist should be open to your feedback regarding therapy and how you perceive the progress you have made. Therapy can be difficult at times and you may become frustrated with the whole process. By talking through these issues with your counselor, you can get a better idea of how you're doing and what the next steps will be.

The Bottom Line

By looking for a therapist with these qualities, you can ensure a productive therapeutic relationship that will give you the help, care and guidance you need. With trust and an open dialogue, you can make significant progress in your treatment.

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