What 'Good' Therapy Looks Like

April 25, 2023
Matthew Coffman, LPC

Have you ever wondered what good therapy looked like? I have, and I am a therapist! Not knowing what to expect isn’t uncommon. Rather, it’s a normal part of figuring out how to choose therapy for you and what you are looking for. Spoiler… Your experience may differ based on your goals, your therapist, and the rapport you build with your therapist.

Unfortunately, I can’t tell you that ‘good’ therapy will be the same for everyone. You may be looking for a therapist who will tell you what to do and how to respond to different situations, or you may need someone relatable and encouraging. The hardest part is if you don’t know what you are looking for. That’s where testing out different therapists may be your best course of action. A therapist that works for you may not work for your friend/family member/partner. I tell all of my clients that I may not be the best fit for them, but I truly want them to find the therapist that will get them closer to their goals.

However, I also don’t think you can figure out if you are experiencing ‘good’ therapy in 1 session. Sometimes you need to take time to see if what you are getting from therapy is right for where you are. So I have a couple of general statements to get you thinking about your experience.

You appreciate your therapist/their style.

It is important that you either appreciate your therapist or you appreciate their style. It may not mean you ‘love’ your therapist, but it should mean appreciating their process. If you talk with a therapist long enough, you will hear them talking about the process. Therapy isn’t just about skill building–although that is was insurance companies often want to focus on–it’s about the process. Every session leads you through a process. That may be working on a goal, changing a behavior, or adjusting a long-held perspective. Whatever it is, it’s important to think critically about whether or not your therapist is providing this for you.

**You are getting something out of it. **

Another key thing to look for is, getting something out of the process. Some modalities (grouping of interventions utilized by therapists) are not intended to help you like your therapist. Instead, they are to get you to look at yourself or change your perspective or a myriad of other things in your life. The main priority for you should be, are you getting better, or is your goal progressing? It may not be immediate, and it may not be noticeable at first, but therapy is about you improving, and if that isn’t happening, it may be time to look for another clinician.

Therapy makes sense.

Lastly, it is important for therapy to make sense. There’s a caveat here: I believe that therapy shouldn’t be a secret and that you should know what is happening in therapy. If you therapist doesn’t believe this, this section may not benefit you. This is one of those areas that I have some preconceived ideas about. For example, I don’t think that when you go to the doctor you shouldn’t know what is happening. This is the same with therapy. There should be some logic and a way to understand what is happening fully. Are you in gestalt-based therapy, and is your therapist pointing out your emotions, postures, and ideas in real-time? That should be normal. Are you in a psychodynamic therapeutic relationship where your therapist is basing their interventions on your subconscious and how it responds to external stimuli? That should be recognizable and easy to understand. A good litmus test for this is asking the therapist, why? Why are you doing that, what are you trying to achieve, and how does that relate to my goals? These are great questions to start the conversation.


Ultimately, what makes therapy good is related to you and what you want/need/desire out of therapy. Certain therapists aren’t for everyone, and you may need to be open with your therapist to get a better understanding of what is happening. If you have more questions, consider scheduling a consult with one of our therapists, or reaching out to our incredible customer service team.

_What if you are experienced in therapy but don’t know if it’s time to move on or have a conversation with your current therapist? Look for a blog coming soon to get some tips about that. _

Photo by: Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash