Honesty, Sincerity, Genuiness and Frankness: A good therapist is someone who will be honest with you, but not so honest that it is harmful to you. The key is honesty and frankness with tact. Therapy isn’t about bringing you down, it is about helping you examine yourself in an open and honest way that is supportive so that you can learn and grow. If your therapist is overprotective of you, your therapist isn’t trusting your personal ability to heal. In reality, healing is up to you, not your therapist. Your therapist needs to trust your ability to heal yourself and not protect you from the truth, but on the other hand, it isn’t helpful if you walk away from therapy feeling attacked or abused. Truth is only good if it is used to strengthen you. It is not helpful if it is used against you. Often the truth can be very painful, but a good therapist will be honest with you without being harmful towards you. Truth used as a weapon isn’t healing truth, it is abuse.
If It Ain’t Broke, Don’t Fix It. If something is working in your life, it isn’t in need of repair. A good therapist is going to focus on your strengths and help you learn to use your strengths when facing areas of weakness. Your strengths don’t need fixing, they are already working. A good rule of thumb is, if it is working do more of it. If it isn’t working, try something else, but if it is already working, there is no reason to change what is working for you.
Trustworthy: This is something that is critical. Therapy is a very personal and private relationship. It is important that you can trust your therapist, and more importantly, that your therapist is someone who is worthy of the trust you give. A trustworthy therapist is someone who listens to you, is dependable, has good professional boundaries, and doesn’t throw surprises your way, but is predictable. If you know that when you go to therapy at 3:00pm, your therapist is going to be there at 3:00pm, see you for the full session time, is going to treat you with respect, set limits if necessary, and can be counted on, then you are working with a trustworthy therapist.