I’ve heard it a million times. As soon as people find out I’m an Atlanta counselor they automatically think I’m analyzing them. When people find out what I do, some sort of statement following the lines of “Oh boy, I sure could use your help. I better be careful. You’re probably analyzing me right now” can be quick to follow. Having somewhat of a sense of humor, I usually respond with some sort of witty comment like “No, I’m off the clock” or “Don’t we all need a therapist…” But the truth of the matter is, usually when I meet people I’m not judging them.
Contrary to many people’s perceptions of therapists, we aren’t trained solely to judge. In fact, being judgmental doesn’t necessarily make us effective therapists, and it can have the opposite effect. Judging means we can’t really meet our clients where they are at because we have strong beliefs about where they are at, and how they should get out of that place.
Instead of using the word analyzing I tend towards using the word listening. I love to listen to people’s stories, in and outside of my Atlanta counseling office. I love to really hear about what they are going through. When you get really good at listening, you can hear what people say with their words, and without words. So, when I meet people I naturally tend towards listening.
If I were to give people advice on how to find the right therapist, I would suggest finding someone you feel really listens and is able to connect with what you’re saying. Statistics show that rapport with your therapist is critical in your success in counseling. If you can find someone that is able to meet you where you are at, you’re more likely going to be able to move to a healthier place.
I guess I should end the article by saying, I’m not perfect and there are times when I judge. But, that’s usually when someone gives me a reason to judge like they’re wearing a ridiculously hilarious outfit, they seem to be a threat, or they did something surprising. It’s easy to make assumptions and judge in the heat of the moment, and of course I’m human and do the same. But typically speaking, I’m not judging I’m listening.