How to select a therapist who will help and not hurt. A project of Metanoia Communications


6 - The Perfect Therapist

In subsequent pages, I will describe an ideal therapy experience. However, a therapeutic frame is rarely perfect. There will be intrusions, and failures, and there is no such thing as a perfect therapist (they too are human after all). The realities of managed care unfortunately make a perfect therapy experience even more elusive.

Luckily, therapy can be helpful and healing even if it is not totally perfect. You may not find the perfect therapist, but if you understand the importance of a secure frame, you can certainly evaluate the relative competence of your therapist, and quickly weed out incompetent and abusive therapists.

Managed care increasingly intrudes on the effectiveness of psychotherapy. If you are in a managed care system, you will likely discover that there will be compromises. However, I think it's important that you know what you should be able to expect. Hopefully, current efforts to reform managed mental health care will eventually be successful. In the meantime, if the service offered by your managed care system is just too awful, consider paying your own way, perhaps by going to a nonprofit counseling center with a sliding scale fee. Dont let the hurdle of managed care bureaucracy keep you from getting the help you deserve.

Next: Privacy: the essential ingredient >>

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Table of Contents


  1. Why I wrote this article
  2. How to tell if a therapist is competent, or not
  3. What psychotherapy isand why you need to know
  4. The secret that you already know
  5. How a good therapist makes you feel safe
  6. The perfect therapist
  7. Privacy: the essential ingredient
  8. Non-judgmental acceptance: you deserve it
  9. How to choose a therapist to call
  10. How you find out about the therapist
  11. Therapist credentials: the truth revealed
  12. First contact. Watch out for these red flags!
  13. Your first session: what should happen
  14. Safety is in the details
  15. Now what?

Copyright 1991,1996, 1999 Martha Ainsworth. All rights reserved. Please refer to reprint information before reprinting or distributing all or any part of this text.


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