Continuing to see a therapist after completing your treatment program is highly recommended. You may be encouraged to see a therapist each week in the beginning, and these sessions can slowly taper off as you make progress. However, it’s beneficial to have someone to talk to from time and time. As you face stressful situations, you can talk with your therapist about how to best handle them. Drugs and alcohol are not an option.
Just as there are “okay” doctors and great doctors, there are “okay” therapists and great therapists. Take your time finding a therapist that can meet your needs and has worked with recovering addicts. You can look online, ask for recommendations from people in your support groups or get a referral from your treatment center.
Essential Therapist Traits
Here are seven essential traits that The River Source recommends looking for in a therapist.
1. Willingness to be a partner on your team.
Your therapist should be willing to establish an alliance with you, something called the therapeutic alliance. This means that the therapist takes time putting together a list of goals that you both agree on. You should feel that the therapist truly cares about the goals you want to achieve.
2. Ability to explain the reasons for your symptoms.
We all have a right to feel the way we do. No one should you put you down for this, and an effective therapist will be able to explain why you experience certain things. However, this doesn’t mean the therapist should use these reasons as excuses. Your counselor should adjust your treatment accordingly.
3. Strong interpersonal skills.
Effective psychotherapists can express their thoughts and feelings, and they are successful at sensing what others are thinking and feeling. When you talk to your therapist, you should feel that they are truly listening and understanding your needs rather than making assumptions.
4. Trust factor.
Trust is a key component of any successful therapist-client relationship. How do you feel about your therapist? What was your first impression of them? If you don’t trust the counselor, look for a new one. Sticking with the same person just because they were referred to you can prevent you from opening up and getting the full benefit of therapy.
5. Commitment to your treatment plan.
Your counselor should be up to speed on your continuing care plan. They may also have recommendations of their own, such as taking part in daily fitness or attending additional support groups. The right therapist will explain your expectations for a successful recovery and hold you accountable.
6. Attention given toward your progress.
Everyone recovers in a different way. A strong addiction counselor should not have generalizations planned out for you. They should celebrate your milestones and focus on the areas where you are improving, as this is a sign that the therapy is working.
7. Sensitivity to your background.
Recovering addicts often have sensitive backgrounds. This may come from before your abuse, or it may refer to things that happened while you were abusing drugs. Your therapist should be sensitive to these needs, as well as any religious, cultural or relationship statuses.
Many factors affect the outcome of therapy, but it all starts with the right therapist. The above seven traits are strong indicators that you have found a counselor that will work with you to reach your sobriety goals.