Therapists talk a lot about “good fit” between client and therapist. This is because it’s considered one of the best markers for a successful therapy outcome.
What they’ve basically discovered is that it’s the quality of the relationship between therapist and client that makes the biggest difference to the therapy outcome.
Temperament seems to go a long way here, and this is an important point because temperament isn’t something we can change, although of course we can learn ways to manage it differently.
Karen Maroda talks about this a lot in her new book ‘The analyst’s vulnerability’. I’m paraphrasing a fair bit of her wisdom here. She explores how important it is that there is a compatibility in the temperament of the client and the therapist.
For example, a client may need to spar with their therapist and it helps if they have a therapist who can not only withstand this but maybe even finds it thrilling. This therapist is going to have the capacity to be interested and engaged in their work with this client in a way a therapist with a more sensitive temperament may struggle.
Other clients may need a therapist who is able to go ever so slowly and carefully, so the therapist needs to have a more sensitive and intuitive temperament to suit their needs.
Finding a ‘good enough’ romantic partner doesn’t mean there aren’t still difficulties to navigate in the relationship. This is somewhat similar to the therapeutic relationship. It can actually be part and parcel of how the healing occurs.
‘Good enough’ is a phrase us therapists like. It basically means someone who is not perfect because no one is, but it’s someone who gets it right most of the time.
Finding a ‘good fit’ helps us navigate these bumpy bits more successfully.
By bumpy bits, I mean those misses, misunderstandings and misinterpretations that occur in relationships.
I don’t mean serious boundary violations on the part of the therapist (such as explosive rows or any form of unethical behaviour).
So, what do you need to consider?
It’s usually important that there’s a sense that you ‘like’ your therapist. That they’re someone you find interesting and you’re curious about. Perhaps you would be friends with them in another life.
There needs be some kind of connection; whether a shared sense of humour, or an understanding, or just a feeling that they get you.
One of the surest ways to tell this is to have a few consultations with different people.
You’ll also get a sense of therapists from their websites; if you connect with their writing style, tone, or the topics they’ve written about.