Getting to Know Your Therapist


Therapy is about discovering and embracing the real you. But while you’re exploring your own thoughts during your therapy session, do you ever wonder what your therapist is thinking and feeling? Since you’re opening yourself up and disclosing so much information to another person, it’s understandable that you’d be curious about what they are experiencing. To help demystify the process, here’s an inside peek into what a therapist typically thinks according to our goals, our perspective, and our relationship.

Our Goals

According to Dr. Firestone’s article, “What Goes on in the Mind of Your Therapist?” in PsychAlive, “The goal of the therapist is not to judge or to categorize someone, but to understand that person as an individual, so that he or she feels seen.” In this sense, a therapist’s most important task is to see a person as they would have been without the outside forces in their life acting upon them.

One of the most life-changing lessons people can learn in therapy is that the definitions of themselves that they live by are not necessarily representative of who they really are. As such, it’s important when evaluating our goals to recognize the role of continual improvement–the idea that we are never done evolving as individuals, and that each person’s journey is important and unique.

Our Perspective

Your past can have a significant impact on who you are today. Therapists are sensitive to this. Because they don’t have any connection to their clients’ pasts, therapists have the opportunity to truly see their clients free of the labels that they perceive others to have given them–or that they have given themselves.

A non-judgemental therapist strives to meet the client in their own space and to not impose values. This perspective enables therapists to provide genuine guidance to their clients, without reinforcing their old definitions, so you can walk in the door with a clean slate.

Our Relationship

Finding the therapist who is right for you is extremely important. In a recent interview about his book, Overcoming the Destructive Inner Voice, Robert Firestone said, “In addition to training and experience, the ideal attitude of the therapist toward the client would best be described by the following adjectives: warm, compassionate, honest, direct, interested, inquisitive, non-judgmental, respectful and deeply feeling. There would be a sense of equality where both parties work to develop an understanding rather than an automatic application of the therapist’s predetermined theoretical orientation.”

Scientific research has proven that therapy is effective. But effectiveness doesn’t depend solely on the therapist’s techniques, education, or school of thought; at least 60% of the value of therapy lies inherently in the relationship between the client and the therapist.

The therapy room isn’t all darkness and sadness. Some favorite moments are celebrations or lightness after a major revelation. For example, on a regular basis, therapists and clients experience a hilarious moment because of a story or maybe due to a new insight. When we, as therapists, do this successfully, we’re able to identify and know the goodness that exists in each person, and therefore, see the fullest possibilities of that individual.

Learn more about Alison Sorenson here.