A useful and very obvious question indeed. People believe that you need to have a specific problem to enter therapy and that if you are confused, it means that the counsellor won’t be able to make sense of things. That is a common mistake many think so I’m going to briefly discuss some reasons you would like to come to therapy, even if you think in your head, the reasons are not significant enough to see a mental health professional.
The ideal client is essentially anyone who feels they need to talk to a qualified counsellor. Its as simple as that. You don’t have to have anxiety, depression or anything else you can easily describe. Sometimes we are confused by underpinning issues or meta-cognitive issues (things that connect to the issues you are having, sort of a bridge rather than the actual problem) so these things aren’t always easy to answer however a therapist can definitely spot them. So if you’re confused about many different things going on in your head, just coming in for a session to sift things can be a great way to get baggage of your shoulders. Unfortunately, this is one thing I see lots of counsellors not allowing as they only work with people with an agreed number of sessions. While I don’t agree with that, everyone has their way of conducting business. This is your choice and yours alone.
You think the therapist may not understand you, that they are the wrong fit, and that’s okay. What I’ve found is that even if you have a chat over the phone before actually meeting with the therapist, sometimes there will still be a disconnection between you and them and that’s just how things go. But the good thing is, by going through that calculated process, therapists tend to refer you to somebody else they think can help you better. Without the therapist at least having an idea of what you are experiencing, it can be difficult to recommend any advice over the phone. Yes I know Psychology Today and other directories exist but that is mostly marketing, you won’t really know how much someone can help you if you don’t meet them in person.
This next issue is something I know all too well. You think your problems aren’t that great yet you come see someone like me and I wonder why you hadn’t seen anyone sooner. Most people delay therapy or any sort of help because they believe they had to ‘just get on with it’. While I commend such resilience, I also know that when the client finally speaks to someone, it was like a balloon waiting to burst; everything just comes rushing out. If you think that is you, then please I urge you, talk to a professional who can help you out. I recommend seeking someone who doesn’t make pre-agreements as to how many sessions you need to able to see them, rather go to professionals who will see you for a ‘one-off’ session and if you feel you need further help then you can decide to carry on receiving support from them.
So that sums up some of the traits of the ideal client; the ideal client is no one in my perspective, though they are anyone who thinks they need help and hopefully, a therapist can assess how much help they need. Their job is to help, not judge, so don’t worry if you have nothing significant or long-lasting to tell; we are to here to help navigate you to your destination.