Green Flags to Look For in a Therapist
In a world so full of red flags, sometimes it can feel very defeating and overwhelming to be in search of them continuously. Especially if you are an individual seeking trauma therapy or online counseling, you may be looking for tools and methods to assist you when coming across red flags in your day-to-day life. Therefore, it’s completely understandable to want to avoid a “red flag” experience in therapy. Today we’re discussing some of the green flags to look for in the right therapist for you as it’s often easier to identify green flags than sift through red flags. Let’s dive right in!
What is a Green Flag?
Green flags are the opposite of red flags for the sake of our example. Red flags are commonly known as indicators of danger in both a literal and metaphorical sense. Metaphorically, red flags are indicators that show someone may not value you the way they claim to, or be who they say that they are. They can also be indicators that a person isn’t to be trusted or has misrepresented themselves. Opposite to that, are green flags. Green flags are indicators of safety. They are actions that let you know that you are with a safe person who has your best interest in mind. This person is willing and able to be honest and forthcoming with you. When seeking mental health support of any kind.
One of the most important green flags that you can find in a therapist is one that demonstrates their own set of healthy boundaries. In addition to the clear code of ethics that they are bound by, there are also many ways in which a “green flag” therapist can practice healthy boundaries. Boundaries may allow them to uphold systems within their practice that leave space for them to tend to their personal needs, therefore arriving better equipped to help their clients. Boundaries also create a clear framework for client/therapist interactions so that expectations are managed and there is space to accomplish the work that everyone is there for. While each therapist will have their own, unique set of personal boundaries, feel free to ask what some of them are and listen to their response. Having an understanding of the capacity that your therapist has to provide support as a result of their boundaries can be a great indicator of whether or not they are the right fit as your therapist.
Good Communication Skills
Strong communication skills in a therapist are an incredibly important green flag as communication is an important part of imparting useful information like tools and techniques for clients to use in their day-to-day life. Additionally, good communication involves active listening so that your therapist can determine the best course of action for your particular needs and desired outcomes. An earnest, empathetic listener who speaks directly and confidently is an excellent example of a good communicator. Some examples of good communication when getting to know your therapist are:
- Direct communication about scheduling, policies, and procedures
- Helping you to correct and reframe problematic thought patterns without invalidating your experience
- Listening to understand
- Thoughtful, honest responses to any questions you may have
While some clients prefer to see a therapist who shares one or more of their identities like gender, race, religion, etc., not everyone has access to that, and not everyone may desire that. However, it is imperative that your therapist has a deep understanding and awareness of intersectionality and an ability to remain cognizant of and empathetic to experiences that you might have as a result of identities that they do not share with you. Your appointments must be a safe space for all parts of you and it is important that all parts of you are acknowledged and protected.
Ultimately, your therapist should be able to provide you with a safe space to embark on the journey you will undoubtedly take during your time in therapy. Safe spaces may look and feel different to everyone, and it is important that you find one that makes you feel valued and protected. While it’s true that therapy can often activate us or hit our triggers, there is a difference between feeling discomfort with difficult memories of trauma or past experiences and feeling uncomfortable, unheard, or unsafe when sharing those experiences with your therapist.
Ultimately, therapy is important but hard work. In order to commit yourself to the process, the very least you should expect is to be able to do it with the help of a therapist who is kind, trustworthy, communicative, respectful, ethical, and aware. Finding the right therapist is an important part of getting the support that you deserve and these green flags are a few of the hallmarks that you can look for when searching for the right therapist.
If you’re looking for support or direction, Genesis Counseling of South Tampa would be happy to help. Contact us today for more information on availability and services.