One size doesn’t fit all. 

By Eilene Zimmerman
June 08, 2017

Decided it’s time to give therapy a try? No matter what type of treatment you seek,
 certain therapy practices are standard. In many modalities of psychotherapy, you can expect to sit across from a therapist, who will ask direct questions to get to the root of what’s bothering 
you. Rather than having you attempt to figure out solutions on your own while you share your problems (though that does occasionally happen), your therapist may make specific suggestions on how you can think and behave in ways that make you feel happier and more in control. “There’s a real emphasis on collaboration between the patient and the therapist,” says Stanley Berman, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist and the vice president for academic affairs 
at William James College, in Newton, Massachusetts.

That said, the specific therapist you choose can make a difference 
in your experience. “A good fit between therapist and patient is 
 a strong predictor of success,” says Andrew Gerber, a psychiatrist, 
a psycho­analyst, and the medical director and CEO of the Austen Riggs Center, in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, who studies treatment 
efficacy. You should feel comfortable with your therapist, but you don’t need to be his best friend, says 
Gerber. As a rule of thumb, always ask a potential therapist if he 
has experience treating your specific problem before you book your 
first session. Nothing beats a 
 personal referral, but because many people don’t talk about being in therapy, referrals can be hard to get from friends and colleagues. Ask your doctor for a recommendation, or contact your health-insurance company for a list of mental-health providers in your network. And 
be ready to make a few calls before finding a match.

To further increase your odds 
of getting good therapy, start with a method that’s proven to treat the issue that you’re contending with.

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