3 Steps to Finding The Right Therapist

I posted this post quite a while back and I find it SO relevant today. Now that therapy and sorting your stuff out has become a ‘thing’ (at least it definitely shouldn’t be shameful!), I think it’s ever more important to approach these professionals with discernment. That’s what you’re going to get from this blog post.

Firstly, a few things you should know…

Like with any profession, there are people who do it well and there are people who don’t do it so well. The thing is that when you’re in the role of client you’re putting your mental health and wellbeing in the hands of someone else, so it’s very important that you’ve vetted this person to make sure that they’re up to the job.

What I’ve found with many therapists, counsellors and even psychologists is that they lack the self-awareness and humility to admit that their ego can pop up during a session and project on the client. Here’s the thing – we’re all human. We all have egos. We can all project, have blind spots and ‘act out’. The problem is, that if the person who is holding the space of your mental health is not aware of themselves enough to know when they’re in their own ego, then you as the client can be in a very vulnerable and sometimes dangerous position.

That’s why it’s very important for you as the client to be discerning when you pick your therapist. By going through these steps, you’ll be equipped to do just that.

  1. Does the therapist have appropriate qualifications?

Firstly it’s important to be clear on the therapy you want and to make sure that the therapist is qualified to provide this. The first question I ask before I even meet up with a therapist is what kind of qualifications they have and what school they studied at. A therapist who is confident in their ability will happily provide their course and school details and answer any other questions you have. If you ask this question and the therapist starts to get defensive then to me this is a red flag I would question whether or not this is a person you want to have a treatment with. Seriously, if they are so insecure that they feel the need to get defensive with you then that’s already showing you that they might not have the skills. Also, by them getting defensive is a clear sign that they aren’t self-aware and cannot emotionally regulate – red red reeeeed flag!

  1. Meet up with them first

A very good piece of advice I got from Dr. Jenn (one of my best friends who’s a very good psychologist) when I ended up in a bit of state because I was seeing a counsellor that unfortunately wasn’t right for me, was to meet up with the therapist before paying for a session to see if you ‘click’. I’ve come to realise that this is something very important especially with any kind of psychological treatment (CBT, NLP, talk therapy etc) because if you don’t feel comfortable and safe in the presence of the therapist then this will limit your ability to heal. Why? Because you won’t open up and then you can’t process your stuff because it’s still locked away. What I mean by safe and comfortable is that you feel physically and mentally safe but also on an emotional level, which means that you shouldn’t feel judged by the therapist. Instead you should feel like you can say anything that comes to mind, that you can cry and that you can feel free to explore these areas of your emotional spectrum.

Since receiving this information I now meet up with anyone before having a therapy to see what my gut reaction says about them. If you don’t have a good gut feeling then it doesn’t necessarily mean that the person is bad, it’s just your instinct saying ‘not this one’, keep going until you find someone who is right for you.

  1. Can they provide what you need?

It’s important to be clear with the therapist about what your expectations are of the treatment and to ask them whether or not they can provide what you need. A credible therapist will be clear about what they can and cannot offer and steer you in the right direction to get what you need. It’s better to communicate this before the treatment so that both parties are clear on the expectations. For this, you’ll need to have a think about what you want from the treatment? How many sessions can you pay for? How deep do you want to go? Do you need to be able to take a break from the sessions at some point?

I think this step is even more important when it comes to people who are selling packages. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes clients need that container of ‘6 sessions’ etc, but some don’t – I certainly know that I don’t work this way anymore, so make sure you decide on a framework that suits you in your life right now, that you can change later if you want to.

Also be careful of people who promise the world because only you can heal yourself, it’s just the therapist’s job to provide space for that kind of unfolding. Hopefully if you follow these three steps you’ll get the right person for you.

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Sending self care vibes,

Shereen x

Photo by Nik Shuliahin on Unsplash

Never Give Up

When I look back at my trauma recovery journey, my goal was always to get back to an adventurous, fearless and nomadic lifestyle with a clear and calm mindset. There was no plan B, or second best option because I knew that if I couldn’t get back to being ‘me’ (or a better version of ‘me’) then quite frankly I didn’t want to live at all. I’m not being dramatic when I write this, because there was a very real point throughout this journey when I went down that dark road and considered ending my life all together. I never wrote about it back then and I don’t talk about much now (apart from the public speech I did about it earlier this year to 150 people… which wasn’t daunting at all!!)

I got to that point of hopelessness when I wasn’t sure if I could overcome what had happened and I didn’t see the point of living my life through the cage of fear and not getting to achieve my dreams. In my eyes, the thought of existing through fear rather than living fearlessly wasn’t a life worth living to me. That’s when leaving the planet all together seemed like a viable option. Luckily, I have the kind of psychologically educated support network who steered me away from these thoughts and believed in me even when I lost belief in myself. I owe my life to these people and for that I’m forever grateful.

So with plan B not being an option, I focused on challenging myself to overcome every single trigger and every single fear to secure my goal of living fearlessly no matter what.

That means I’ve overcome panic attacks.

That I’m back to travelling solo, and talking to random people (inc men) in hostels again like they’re new friends, because they are.

That I’ve got the energy to work long hours that the yachting industry demands, while making sure that I put in the right boundaries and self care routines to take care of myself during the season.

That I am living nomadically, adventurously and with the full freedom to be curious about the world like I used to be.

That I have finally managed to be in a healthy romantic relationship with a man who is emotionally intelligent, kind and has the same goals and values as me.

That I am finally working as a life coach, public speaking and spreading my motivational message, because this is what I was put on this planet to do!

However, there are still many more steps for me to take until I reach my goal because although these accomplishments have got me back to living a ‘normal’ life, a ‘normal life’ is not one that I ever lived and it’s not one that I aspire to live moving forward either. I want to live an extraordinary life.

I want to travel to new places, try new activities and feel the freedom to put myself in new situations on a daily basis – rather than have the fear occasionally stop me in my tracks and pull me back from a new experience.

I want to be so open and vulnerable in my relationship that my partner and I feel connected like a team no matter what is thrown at us – rather than pushing away and closing off because the simple fact that he’s a man triggers the living daylights out of me

I want to have my solid sense of self-assuredness back constantly. That feeling that I used to have, that knowing that I can create anything I dream up, that the world is an abundance of limitless possibility that is open for my exploration and pleasure.

I want to experience all my dreams and goals as real life experiences so that I can look back with no regrets when I finally leave this planet. That I can look back at a legacy that I’ve create and know that I used my energy to contribute to a greater good that the planet needs.

This is why I’m not giving up. This is WHY I continue to challenge myself and reflect, and grow!

Even when a setback plummets me back to ground zero and I’m upset and exhausted and disorientated from the triggers and the thoughts. And when I’m not sure what thoughts in my head are reflective of the actual reality or the ptsd version that my brain likes to create. Or when I’m in so much heartache and pain and guilt at my own ptsdy reactive behaviour that I feel ashamed to face the people who witnessed it.

Because to give up would mean to create an easy life, that’s comfortable and ‘normal’, and for me, that’s not a life worth living.

I’m on a mission to create a greater sense wellbeing for ourselves and the planet that we live on. To teach others how to connect authentically with themselves, so they can connect authentically with others. It starts with learning self-awareness, maintaining a strong value system that serves us, and having the emotional intelligence to move through a whole spectrum of emotions so we can connect without attachment.

If you want the EQ tools to master your emotions and life an empowered life thensign up to my newsletter for monthly insider tips on how to do this. My subscribers get access to free tutorials and are the first to know about exlusive offers on my Empower Yourself Program. If you’ll like to find out more about the workshops, training and tailored coaching packages I offer, head over to www.shereensoliman.com. 

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