Behavioral Health Consultant, Trainer and EAP Manager

Seattle, Washington

I Want a Therapist who Likes Me

Question:

I want a therapist who likes me. Therapists I’ve had in the past seem to just seem to want to to want to get me in and get me out. Or, they’d treat me like a child, using pity and patronizing. Another one was young and inexperienced and seemed awed by me which wasn’t helpful, and I imagine others are remote and analytical, too removed.

Answer:
As a therapist it’s something of a duty to find a way to like everyone I’m working with. But of course, it’s a complicated task. No one is likeable or dislikable at all times, and I myself have moments when I seem to hate everyone (not in the therapy office, luckily; it’s when I stub my toe badly). Also, “like” has different components, all of which vary in degree with different relationships. There is admiration, compassion, curiosity, attraction, shared values and so on.

To a large degree, it’s harder to like someone who I cannot get to know, and easier to like someone the more I can get to know them – and by this I mean not just their story and worldview, but their feelings as we interact.

But it’s a two-way street. If I may be so blunt, you have a role to play in how a therapist responds to you. I would not want to promise to like someone who doesn’t earn my fondess, and I would do you no favors by giving unearned appreciation. What I can do, over time as we build a relationship, is give direct feedback on those things you do which are likeable, and those that may elicit negative reactions. Our feelings toward each other can be a window we both utilize.

I want you to be someone who can be liked by your therapist – and the others in your life.  We’ll work on it.

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