There are basic characteristics that effective therapists have in common. It is worthwhile to look for these traits when seeking out a therapist.
• They are up to date on the latest research and know what methods are effective.
• They know how to collaborate with the client so that the client feels that therapy is a joint process towards a specific goal.
• They are nonjudgmental and their clients feel understood.
• They are able to custom tailor the treatment for each individual client.
• They know their limits. Effective therapists do not treat all mental health issues. Remember the old saying, “A jack of all trades is a master of none!”
Another point to bear in mind is that a therapist’s talents outside of the therapy room are not indicators of how they practice in the therapy room. Some therapists are great authors. Others are incredible speakers. Unfortunately, these talents have nothing to do with actual therapy.
People also often wonder about the importance of using a licensed clinician. In short, the advantages are that they have had thousands of hours of work under supervision, they are required to take courses in continuing education, they are bound by the HIPPA laws of confidentiality and they are often liable if they cause harm.
Just like a driver’s license does not mean that the bearer of the license is a good driver, similarly a license does not mean that the therapist is effective. But it does indicate that they have met certain qualifications and the risk of losing their license keeps them focused on practicing ethically and competently.
Rabbi Azriel Hauptman was the founding director of the Relief Resources Baltimore office and writes extensively on the topic of mental health for a variety of publications. Rabbi Hauptman resides with his wife and children in Baltimore, MD.
By Rabbi Azriel Hauptman