How to Be a Good Therapist: 7 Helpful Tips
Are you working on becoming a therapist and want some extra advice?
When a person decides they need to seek help from a therapist, you’ll want to make sure you’re able to provide the best experience possible. By looking for extra bits of advice, you already have the right mindset to learn how to be a good therapist.
To guide you even further, we’ve collected some tips that all therapists need to know!
- 1. Plan for Extended Sessions
When you’re in the middle of a good session, it’s terrible to realize that you’ve run out of time. It’s even worse for your patient since they’re putting their emotions out into the open. If you shut them down on the dot, they’ll feel as though you’re not on their side.
This is why you should always leave open spaces between clients. Thirty minutes is a good amount of wiggle room to allow you to bring a conversation to a close naturally rather than rushing a client out the door.
Plus, if a session ends in good time, this gives you a chance to take a small break and prepare for the next client.
- 2. Be Accommodating
No two patients are ever the same and it’s up to you to accommodate them all. Keep in mind that what works for one person might not work at all for another person.
You’ll need to be flexible and open-minded at all times. Trying to stick to a one-size-fits-all mentality will only end up frustrating your patient. They might even stop coming to see you altogether if they don’t feel as though you’re listening to their needs.
For example, if a patient prefers doing sessions over the computer, there’s nothing wrong with setting up virtual healthcare appointments. It lets you form a connection with the patient in a way that makes them most comfortable. Over the next few sessions, they may open up to visiting in person.
Being able to provide a variety of experiences to match the different needs of your patients is the key to learning how to get therapy clients that stick around.
- 3. Have a Good Organization System
One of the best tips for therapists is to figure out an in-depth organization system that works for you.
You’ll deal with many patients all at once and you never want to mix up details between them. It not only looks sloppy but it also hurts the patient and their trust in you. It’s a breach of confidentiality and no therapist ever wants to have that happen.
Before you begin accepting patients, find a way to keep all of your information organized. You’ll have an easier time refreshing your memory about each patient so that mistakes never happen during a session.
It doesn’t have to be an elaborate system as long as it works for you!
- 4. Answer Messages Right Away
When you become a therapist, your job doesn’t end at the close of a workday or session. You’ll also want to keep an eye out for any messages your patients send to you after hours.
You want to answer any email or voice mail as soon as you receive them. This might seem tricky at first, but once you get into the habit, it’ll be a lot easier.
You don’t want your patient to think that you’re ignoring them or that you don’t want to ‘deal’ with them. By answering as soon as possible, you ensure that they feel heard. It builds up another layer of trust between the two of you.
It could make a big difference to your patient so it’s always better to answer fast than to wait.
- 5. Trust Your Instincts
Even with tons of knowledge to back you up, you’ll still need to rely on your instincts once you’re in the middle of a session. Humans sense things in other humans from time to time and it’s a good thing to add to your skills.
If you notice a patient becoming agitated, change the subject to help them calm down. If a patient avoids a certain topic, make note of it and work towards getting them to open up.
Your instincts are supported by all of your therapy knowledge and experience, so it’s okay to follow what your gut tells you.
- 6. Avoid Burn Out
It’s not easy being a therapist. Listening to difficult stories all day eventually takes its toll and you’ll burn yourself out if you’re not careful.
Take time to unwind after each day. Find something that allows you to distress and relax so that you don’t build up a lot of dark emotions during a hard workday. Take as many breaks as you need.
Do whatever you need to do to ensure your personal mental health doesn’t suffer from your work. You can’t help anyone if you’re not feeling your greatest!
- 7. Keep Learning
There are breakthroughs in the health industry every single day. To be a good therapist, you need to stay informed about all of the latest therapist resources. Without knowing about these breakthroughs, you’ll be unable to give your patients the level of help they deserve.
One of the best resources for therapists is other therapists. Reach out to your fellow therapists and take the time to talk and learn together.
It’s an excellent way to widen your skillset. Plus, other therapists know what you’re going through when you’re having a rough day. They’ll be the perfect support group to help you get back on your feet.
Learning How to Be a Good Therapist Takes Time and Experience
The main thing to keep in mind is that your journey is never over. Learning how to be a good therapist doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a goal you’ll need to strive for throughout your entire career as you gain more experience and knowledge.
By always trying to improve, you ensure that you’re giving your best to your clients during every single therapy session.
Looking to learn even more before jumping into your practice? Make sure to check out the rest of our Education section for information on a variety of topics!