Elements of Good Psychological Therapy

"In my early professional years I was asking the question: How can I treat, or cure, or change this person?
 Now I would phrase the question in this way: How can I provide a relationship which this person can use for
his own personal growth" 
--Carl R. Rogers

February is Psychology Month.  The message is that "Psychology is for everybody" and the goal of this month is to raise awareness of the role of psychologists and the value and benefit of our work.  To that end, this article is devoted to discussing the elements of a positive psychological therapy experience.

Good psychological therapy is empowering.  It helps you to realize your capacity for change.  The goal is to help you become self-reliant so that you don't become dependent on your therapist to function successfully.

Your work with a psychologist should be collaborative.  You are the expert on you while your clinical psychologist has expertise and training in how people think, feel, and behave.  Together, you work on goals set by you.  You are always in the driver's seat while the therapist is along for the ride.  The psychologist may suggest an alternative route, help with navigation, know an area very well, or suggest a new destination but in the end it is up to you to decide whether or not to accept the guidance of your passenger.

Good therapy should be focused on you.  Being a psychologist is a very rewarding experience.  We are in the privileged position of bearing witness to another person's journey and we are there for unburdenings and transformations.  But therapy should not be about the needs of the therapist.

The relationship with the therapist is an integral part of a successful outcome.  It is important to find a good match for you.  You may decide to work with a therapist who is not exactly the same as you in order to gain a different perspective.  When you are talking with the therapist, how do you feel?  Do you feel comfortable or safe even if the topic is painful or uncomfortable to talk about?  If so, that's a good start.

While this article discusses what makes up a good therapy experience, it is also important to recognize that no therapy is perfect.  Like most relationships, the therapy relationship is not without misunderstandings and imperfect moments.  What is important is that there is an opportunity to work through difficulties, some of which may mirror difficulties in your own life.  For example, you may have realized the need to be more assertive and to speak your mind in relationships.  Being more assertive with your psychologist can be like a dress rehearsal for life where you get the chance to try out new behaviours in a safe, supportive environment.

I hope your therapy experience helps you to gain a new perspective that creates the space for new possibilities to emerge.

"There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it" --Edith Wharton

Dr. Lisa Berg-Kolody, PhD
Registered Doctoral Psychologist #394
Prince Albert, SK

Consistent with the practice guidelines of the Sask College of Psychologists, this website does not represent requests for a testimonial, rating, or endorsement from clients or former clients.

This website is for informational purposes only and should not be considered professional advice or a substitute for psychological therapy.