Good therapy with frustrating search

Published 1:53 pm Monday, November 5, 2012

By Abbie Long


Question: I lost my father six years ago. I think of him every day and cry at

the slightest remembrance of him. I hurt so badly inside and am

realizing my grieving process has gone on long enough. I have been to

see five different counselors/therapists and none of them seem to

identify with what I need especially on a spiritual level. How do I

find a good match to my needs? I’m frustrated!


Answer: It is that dreaded time again. Time to buy a new pair of jeans. Too tight in the hips, too big in the waist, too long, too short are only a few of the frustrations anticipated and accepted when searching for that perfect fit. Do you persevere despite? Or, do you abort the mission and head home to the well-worn pair of sweatpants waiting for your arrival?

Searching for a well-fit therapist can be equally as frustrating.

However, as the sought after item’s potential to beautify increases the more the concerted diligence required for the shopping experience. Good counseling can and should open the pathways to increased strength, to sustained emotional healing and ultimately to a very deep level of beautification.

With refreshed optimism, obtain several references from your doctors, friends, church and or family. Phone each of the referrals as is if you are interviewing them for the job. Ask anything necessary to assess their spiritual, professional and personal dimensions. Unlike jeans made to fit a person’s exact measurements, a therapist’s spiritual and clinical sizes must be larger than those of their patient in order to encourage growth within that client. Does your candidate fit the bill?

During the phone interview do you hear papers rustling in the background or receive any other signal that you’re sharing your prospects attention? If your candidate is too busy to have a fully attentive phone call image how rushed your in-person sessions will be.

Also, a candidate who tries to hurry you off of the phone is not putting value in the potential return you both stand to receive from a long-term relationship. Finally, disregard any therapist who tries to fit you into a mold. Good counselors assume nothing and consider everything. These suggestions will keep your frustration level low and help you avoid settling for an unproductive match who is likely motivated by reasons other than your overall health and healing.

Next, set up in-office sessions with your remaining candidates to confirm or deny your initial phone impressions. These sessions are not a commitment to establish a lasting relationship, just another interview. Does the therapist truly listen to you or do they appear to blank out or to be thinking about what they are going to say before you are done talking? You will be able to tell more from body language than from any spoken words. Therapists will be on their best behavior when trying to obtain your business. If you have any red flag during this “courting phase” run quickly because after the

marriage matters only get worse.

It is absolutely normal to feel the way you do. The commonly held belief of being “the only one who is experiencing what I am experiencing” is a LIE! A lie that keeps one from experiencing victory due to its ability to breed within the mind an unwillingness

to open up and share. Immediately reject and speak out against the idea you are alone and then believe for a willingness to share your struggles with others. You will find many having been through similar situations and who can share their own personal experiences, healing journeys, struggles and victories. A support group of persons who have dealt with past guilt issues and or who are currently struggling with the like could be an amazing first step to conquering your own personal victory.

Don’t give up, the very next store you visit may have your perfect pair of therapeutic jeans, made of a fabric whose brightness will not fade over time and whose individual threads gain strength when woven together amongst one another, waiting for your arrival.

For more information on a locally held grief support group call Gerry Lewis at 562-5135.


Abbie Long is a Franklin native and advice columnist for The Tidewater News. Submit your questions to