The Most Effective Psychotherapists Are Those Who Really Listen
Updated December 10, 2018
Reviewer Dawn Brown
Not every therapist is right for every person, and some don't really help anyone. Finding a therapist who can help you create a better life for yourself can seem like a daunting task. There is so much to consider. You need to find someone who understands what you're going through, has a treatment philosophy you can get behind, and can guide you with the right questions, encouragement, and support to help you make the changes you need to make. To do all this, they need to pay attention to what you say. The bottom line is that the most effective psychotherapists are those who know how to listen.
Addressing the Issues That Are Important to You
When a therapist doesn't pay attention to your words and nonverbal communications, they decide for themselves what problems you need to address. For example, if you come into their office with the smell of smoke on your clothes and hair, they might assume you're there to stop smoking. Yet, you may already have a viable plan for that and what you need to talk to them about is something totally different. When a therapist listens to you first without making assumptions, they can help you with the problem you actually need help solving.
Identifying Problems You Don't See
Many people go into therapy with only a vague idea that something's wrong. A therapist who doesn't listen may make guesses, but they'll probably be wrong most of the time. When you work with a therapist who engages with you, they might identify the true source of your uneasiness. Often, it's what you don't say, as well as what you do say, that shows what is bothering you. A therapist who interacts with you on a deep level can see problems you might not.
Typically, therapists who are stuck in their own little world resort to lecturing. Rather than a healthy give-and-take, they take complete charge of the sessions. They lecture you without even understanding what you need to hear. A therapist who listens rarely lectures at all, because they know that their job is to guide you in finding your own answers.
Finding Solutions That Are Suited to You
A therapist who listens to you gets to know you in a way, that one who doesn't never will. So, rather than giving you a cookie-cutter solution, they help you find solutions that work for your unique personality and situation.
The Most Effective Psychotherapists Are Those Who Are There to Listen to You
Why did your therapist choose to spend their time counseling others? Was it perhaps a money motive or an unhealthy need to control other people? While you probably won't know the answers to these questions immediately, you'll probably be able to discern them as time goes by. The most effective therapists may need to earn a living and may like being a leader, but their first and most important motive will be to listen to the people that come to see them, and help them find solutions to the problems that bother them.