Does Your Therapist Like You? One Therapist's Perspective

by Lynn R. Zakeri Tuesday, February 22, 2011

William Blake - Friendship

Most professionals in the helping profession chose their job purposefully.  We enjoy helping, listening, and problem solving.  I found an online quiz that supposedly determines if one would make a good therapist.  It asked questions about one’s understanding, ability to help others control emotions, make decisions, give feedback and read social cues.  These are definitely telling questions, but is there more to it?  Do therapists ever think of their clients as more than a job?  Do clients feel that they are genuinely liked?  I’ve written previously about the chemistry one must have with their therapist.  That chemistry can go both ways.

Are there clients I particularly enjoy seeing?  Yes.  Is it because they are nice?  Sure, they are nice.  But it is more their motivation to work during our sessions.  As a therapist, I am easy to please:  Show up for our scheduled appointments, call if you can’t or are running late, and then use your time well.  However, that doesn’t mean I “like” you any less if you don’t do these things.  I care about my clients.  I like them too.  Some I can say I really like, especially after having known them for many years.  But let’s be honest.  It is a one-sided relationship.  They may leave a session feeling better than ever, and I am fulfilled knowing together we worked hard, but while they may ponder our work well after the session is over, I am completely focused on my next client.

Many clients come into our session with a list of topics they want to discuss and work on.  But what is he or she feeling when they leave?  Some of my clients probably feel that I am proud of them based on our talk and the progress they have made, and that feeling may transfer to feeling like they pleased me and that they did well.  They leave with a smiling “thank you so much” and will sometimes tell me they repeated some of our conversation with their loved ones.  Feeling liked is part of that along with feeling accepted and cared for.   I have never been asked the question during therapy “do you like me”, but I confidently believe my clients would all say that I genuinely do.

Sometimes a client’s issue might be insecurities and that will transfer over to our relationship as well.  A client may leave wondering if he or she pleased me and answered “correctly” instead of processing situations through their own glasses (as opposed to mine).  Once confidence is built, it is my hope that their habit of changing behaviors to please me will become pleasing to themselves.

Some therapists say it is too draining to think about work when not working.  I can’t help but brainstorm and process throughout my days.  Is it draining?  Possibly.  But again, doing a good job is fulfilling.  I think 100% of my clients would tell you that not only do I like them, but that I like them best.  And for that 45-50 minute session, I do.

Lynn Zakeri

 

Lynn R. Zakeri is a licensed Clinical Social Worker with a private practice in Northfield and Skolie, Illinois. For more information view Lynn's website at www.lynnzakeri.com.

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The Chemistry Connection in the Therapeutic Relationship

by Lynn R. Zakeri Friday, November 12, 2010

Lynn ZakeriLynn R. Zakeri is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with a private practice in Northfield and Skokie, Illinois. For more information view Lynn's website at www.lynnzakeri.com

It is that old-fashioned phrase “have chemistry”, and scientific or not, you’ve got to have it with your therapist.  .  Whether you are looking for a listener or a problem solver, a sense of kindness or a motivator, you still need that chemistry. 

How do you meet people is a question that is often asked, but really, what we are asking is how do we meet people we like, connect with, enjoy, and feel good around.  We talk to many people throughout our day, whether it is at our morning coffee shop, on a school playground, at the office, but who would you like to spend your free time with?  Who makes you laugh or brings out your funny-side?  Who do you have chemistry with?

Literally, chemistry is the study of how matter interacts.  When we talk about chemistry with another person, we commonly refer to the love/attraction type of chemistry, but really just interacting positively is a general type of chemistry that we all strive to reach with others.  This type of interaction is so powerful, that it not only puts you in a good mood, but some research has shown that by releasing a certain chemical, phenylethylamine (PEA), this type of chemistry with another person may even make you happy and possibly resist depressive feelings.

Adolescents often say the now-cool word “aaaawkward” when describing certain encounters, but in truth, so many encounters are!  A hint of sarcasm that was taken seriously; a lag in conversation where you say something you regret just to fill the silence; or you’ve exposed too much and experience the “TMI brush-off” (too much information).

But when it’s good, it’s good.  Time flies, you don’t remember why but you know you laughed… hard.  And you are comfortable.  You are validated.  You are valued and never judged.  Similar to finding the right therapist.  The therapeutic relationship too requires chemistry.  And when it’s good, it’s good.

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