5 min readJun 23, 2020


How To Choose a Therapist

Michael Dadson, PhD, Counselling Psychology, February 2020

Michael Dadson Ph.D. Counsellor operates his clinic out of Brookswood, Langley, BC. www.gentlecurrentstherapy.com

See Dr. Michael Dadson’s YouTube Videos at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCLnx2V8zK9VEg60V5NH2fDQ

Why Therapy Can Be Helpful

There are many reasons for deciding to see a professional counsellor or therapist. There are the most common reasons, which include grief, substance abuse, depression, anxiety, mood management, relationship difficulties, trauma and PTSD. A more subtle and common reason that we don’t often consider is dissatisfaction. Sometimes we are not getting what we want out of life and the direction our lives are going in. In fact, long term dissatisfaction is also a sign of depression, but we often fail to see it as depression.

Sometimes our level of dissatisfaction, anxiety, grief, depression, or PTSD symptoms do not seem to get better in spite of our efforts to pull ourselves out of a slump. In these cases, therapy can not only be very helpful, but it can change our lives, so we become happier and more productive and experience a deeper sense of purpose and meaning. In order for this shift to take place we need to choose the right professional. In fact, research shows the quality of the therapeutic relationship is the most important factor contributing to growth and change, and is more important than the theoretical orientation or interventions. So how do we choose? Online searches help and certainly personal recommendations for a clinic are also a great start, but eventually the best indicator will that first session. What to look for?

What To Expect In The First Session

In that first session, notice if the therapist can build a foundation of trust. Trust is fundamental and is necessary to building a therapeutic relationship. It is the trust in the relationship that creates a sense of safety and confidence in the process. The relationship with the counsellor must permeate each session with the sense that the client can move to a place in themselves where they gain insight, are able to see options, or to use a common euphemism, “see the light at the end of the tunnel”. The journey begins when the client can have a comfort level to open up and naturally share with their therapist.

Building Trust with your Therapist

What helps develop this comfort level? What helps are reassurances of confidentiality, openness, congruence, and a non-judgemental perspective, along with the ability of the professional to really listen and hear what the client is saying so that the client feels heard and understood. What we all need to trust is understanding and empathy coupled with acceptance and support in the way of encouragement.

If the therapist gives advice, or too quickly thinks they have identified the “problem” or the “problem person”, or has the cure, these are indicators of a therapist taking up too much space with their own perspectives. Through the qualities that build trust, the therapist creates the space for the client to express, feel, and see themselves. If in that first session you discover the therapist is not a good fit, don’t give up. If the first person you visit is not a fit consider this experience can be helpful identifying what you don’t want. Keep going in your search, and don’t let a poor or bad first experience discourage you.

The Types Of Therapy

The modality of therapy makes a difference and it is important, but most important is that the therapist can be flexible and adapt to the person and the person’s in the moment needs. For instance, it can be emotionally focussed, process oriented, sensory motor, observed experiential integration (OEI), eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDr), neurofeedback, cognitive therapy, or other modality which combines science with compassion and human understanding. If these modalities are research based and demonstrated to be effective by science that is important. It is the application of the modality and the ‘in the moment’ tracking of the individual that adapts the therapy to the client’s current state of mind, which makes the difference. This is made possible when the therapist engages the client with the qualities that build and maintain trust.

If we change the way we think about things, then the way we feel can change. Conversely, if we change the way we feel about things then the way we think can change. Cognitive therapy is evidence based and explores with the client how the way we think can change how we feel. Emotionally focused therapy is evidenced based and experiences with the client how the way we feel can change how we think. These are two approaches, but what is most important is not the theory rather it is how it is applied. What is most important for individual mental health is, ‘where the client is at in the process of their growth’, and their ‘in the moment process of change’.

Insights Into Behaviour

How we think and feel about things provides insights into our behaviour. As a person arrives at their own insights and conclusions they are then empowered and able, with the help of the therapist as a guide, to strategize around shifts in behaviour. The beauty of this type of therapy is that over time the client can start to identify how to manage their own thoughts and feelings to become their own counsel, although it is always important to have that that reflective presence when we go through those life defining moments. Once again, it is important to choose what is best for each client in that moment, for their unique situation.

What Research Has Shown Us About Therapy

Michael Dadson believes that being compassionately present with others and using fine-tuned clinical skills helps create the space and place necessary for growth. He has a deep belief in the human capacity to find real-life resolutions to injuries and challenges. Research has shown that this happens best when we have access to understanding, support, respect and skilled therapeutic interventions.

Guiding Principles In Therapy

Dr. Dadson and the Gentle Currents Therapy clinic is guided by the following principles:

• All people possess intrinsic worth and have the capacity to realize this.

• All individuals are worthy of respect. The therapy space is one of acceptance and safety. Gender,race, sexual orientation, age, religion, relationship and family status pose no barrier to the therapy process.

• Everyone has the capacity to grow and change; readiness depends on each individual.

• Clients are the experts of their experience and take responsibility for their gains in counselling and for their personal successes; the counsellor’s role is that of attune, facilitate and guide.

• Understanding comes first. If we jump prematurely to tools and strategies, clients are left with generic, depersonalized interventions.

• Most people benefit from counselling at some point in their lives. This includes counsellors too!

At its best, counselling is a healthy dialogue that identifies, promotes, and mobilizes clients’ strengths to reach personal goals.

#depression #anxiety #mentalhealth #trauma #PTSD #Brookswood #Langley #counselling #psychology #clinic #eatingdisorder #michaeldadson


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Michael Dadson, Ph.D.-Registered Clinical Counselor for more than 20 years. Dr. Dadson is a member of the BC Clinical Counsellors Association #michaeldadson