My Dos and Don’ts as a Therapist, Part I (The Dos)

This week I thought I would start giving my blog readers some insight into how I do things as a therapist. Being in this profession, all therapists have ethics that hopefully we all adhere to. Beyond that, I would imagine most therapists do conduct their assessment and therapy sessions in a pretty similar way. I think to some extent we all individualize the process to our preference and comfort level. This blog article and the next provide a glance into my personalized therapeutic approach. I begin with “the dos”.

Do. do make a great effort to get to know and understand my clients; in addition to their current circumstances, I want to learn about their past experiences. I find the more information I have, the more effective I can be. It is not my intent to get stuck in the past, but our pasts are so influential that I feel they deserve attention. It gives me insight into a client’s core beliefs and the roads they hope to not go down again.

Do. do listen carefully. I would consider one of my strengths to include being a good listener. As our world communicates increasingly more through social media, people seem to be lacking someone to sit with them in-person and have deep, uninterrupted conversations. Additionally, I make it a priority to provide examples of healthy communication, particularly with couples who are not strong in this area.

Do. do have imperfections. One of these is that I am not always correct in my understanding of what a client is really trying to say. This is why I frequently check in with clients by sharing what my interpretation is, and I give an open invitation to let me know if I missed the mark.

Do. do work hard to be continually learning (by attending trainings, reading books, etc) so I can best help my clients. There is such a variety of theories, approaches, and techniques in the counseling field, each with strong proponents; I can see value in most of them. Human behavior is not an exact science (a + b does not always = c) and no two clients are the same. I prefer to leave my options open and to have as much information at my disposal to provide the best fitting services to each client and their unique situation.

Just as there are aspects that I feel strongly about incorporating in my therapy work, there are also components that I attempt to avoid. My don’ts are the topic of my next blog. I hope you check it out!

Rita Hansen is a licensed professional counselor with Sioux Falls Wellness Counseling. She can be reached by calling (605) 610-9228.