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Getting the most out of good therapy means that you can live a happier and fulfilling life.
But, many INFJs have had bad experiences with therapists. Have you ever thought, “Shouldn’t a therapist know better? I can’t believe they said that,” or “Did I do something wrong? Why isn’t the therapist seeing what I’m seeing?”
Be careful not to beat yourself up when therapy doesn’t work out. You have to remember that therapists are fallible. Therapists can make mistakes and misunderstand you, just like anyone else. Having a degree and advanced training doesn’t mean that a therapist knows you better than you know yourself.
Through no fault of their own, an INFJ may have encountered a therapist who wasn’t a good fit for them. Research consistently shows that the connection between the therapist and the client is what makes therapy work. Sometimes, the chemistry just isn’t there between a client and a therapist.
INFJs benefit from counseling when they have a genuine connection with an understanding therapist. The more a therapist gets you, the better they can help you.
You certainly aren’t alone for having a bad experience with a therapist. Clients aren’t taught what to look for in a therapist, nor do they know what to expect. The more informed you are about how therapy works, it will be easier to recognize a competent therapist.
How an INFJ Can Pick the Right Therapist
Here are five tips to help INFJs (or other intuitive, sensitive personality types) find the right therapist.
1. Know what your preferences are.
Some people tell INFJs to stop being so picky, but it’s good to be picky about what kind of person you’re opening up to. After all, you’re spending your money to share your vulnerabilities with someone. Just like you trust your medical doctor to do the right thing, you want to trust the competence of someone who helps you with your emotional health.
Think of what qualities you value in a person, whether it’s thoughtful communication, an open mind, or the ability to see things through your eyes. There’s no rigid rule about what type of therapist you “should” prefer. What works for other clients may not work for you. Therapists will generally respect your preferences when you tell them, “This is what I am looking for.”
2. Ask for a free consultation.
Most people aren’t aware that they can interview a therapist before they decide to start to work with one. If you’re like me, you’re sensitive to the tone of a person’s voice and how they choose their words. A free phone consultation is a great way to pick up the vibe of a professional. You can ask important questions about their expertise and counseling style during a free consultation. If talking on the phone makes you feel uncomfortable, reaching out to a therapist by email is also an option. Many therapists are open to a client’s questions, before face-to-face appointments.
3. Speak up when you disagree with a therapist.
You meet a therapist you click with, and you catch them saying something inaccurate about you. An INFJ’s diplomatic nature may think it’s best to keep quiet and avoid conflict. But it’s acceptable to correct your therapist.
Someone may ask me, “So what if a therapist is wrong about you? Why does it matter?” The reason is that poor assumptions from a therapist can lead to poor advice. It can be re-traumatizing for a client to seek help, only to feel like they have been misjudged.
If an INFJ wants accurate insight, it’s good to let a therapist know what you truly feel and think about their input. Remember that other people, even therapists, don’t know what’s going on in your mind. A good therapist is not only open to a client’s feedback, but they’re willing to try to understand where you’re coming from. If a therapist gets angry or blows off your concerns, they may not be right for you.
4. Make sure you like your therapist.
Growing up, my extroverted parents told me, “Never let anyone know that you dislike them.” But, disliking your therapist may impact your progress with them. Just like some INFJs feel trapped in toxic friendships, an INFJ may feel obligated to keep working with a therapist that they don’t quite like.
Ask yourself honestly, “Do I like my therapist? Does my therapist seem to like me?” If the answer is no, it’s time to find a new therapist. A good therapist will not manipulate you into staying with them because they understand that a client’s needs come first.
5. Trust your instincts.
INFJs know what it feels like to have their intuition dismissed by friends and family, but therapists encourage clients to trust their gut feeling. The most important factor when choosing a therapist is to check with your gut feeling. Even if a therapist looks great on paper and has a stellar reputation, how do you feel after your sessions? If your intuition tells you that something isn’t right with your therapist, trust yourself. You’re an expert on yourself, INFJ. When you meet an excellent therapist, your intuition will let you know.
With that said, don’t be discouraged and give up when seeking professional help.There are a lot of good therapists out there. Keep trying, even if it means that you have to try out several therapists before you find the right one. When you find the right therapist, therapy will be worth the investment in your emotional health.