I would first like to say that there is nothing wrong with healthy competition. For example, while playing Scrabble, during the Olympics, or when trying to impress others with how many times you have seen, “The Empire Strikes Back.” Nothing wrong at all. However, when choosing a therapist, you may want to consider one who has more of a collaborative, rather than competitive spirit. The value of collaboration is beneficial and can assist both you and your therapist. The Oxford Dictionary defines “collaborative” as, “the action of working with someone to produce or create something”. Synonyms include, alliance, connection and partnership. Why would you want a therapist like this? I will give you 5 expanded reasons below.
1. Attitude: A therapist who is collaborative is all about reciprocity and equality. There is a mutual respect among colleagues, peers and with clients. The therapist realizes he or she is human and is “not above” a client. There is a sharing spirit that tends to be positive. Speaking of sharing…
2. Sharing of Knowledge: A therapist who shares knowledge is one who wishes to see everyone succeed and both gives and asks for useful information. I am part of an amazing collaborative group known as “Abundance Practice Builders”. This is a Facebook community group that was started by Allison Puryear, one of the most giving spirits I have encountered. Allison’s website is: https://www.abundancepracticebuilding.com. Allison is a therapist, entrepreneur, private practice owner, consultant, supervisor and trainer. Most of all, she brings people together. If you are in the field of mental health and especially are interested in private practice, I highly recommend you connect with her and join the Abundance Practice Builders Facebook group. I digress…In this group, myself and other therapists and consultants share marketing, logistical, business, social media and clinical knowledge for the purpose of all being our best. We support each other and want to see each other do well. We build each other up. We want to support clients the best way we can. We want to be able to provide the most valuable therapy to you. For example, a therapist may ask for some suggestions on grief and loss materials and puts this question out to the group. Several people generally answer and now we all know reliable and valid resources to ultimately help you, the client. In addition, if we support each other in our private practice ventures, we can keep the doors open in our community and provide much needed mental health services. This has a better feel than being secretive, possessive, cut-throat or tearing each other down.
3. Sharing of Resources: A collaborative therapist will share resources and referrals, instead of keeping all clients to his or herself. He or she wants to connect the client to the best fit financially and expertise-wise so that you have a better chance at a successful therapeutic relationship and to work through your specific issues. For example, if someone calls me and is looking for a therapist who specializes in eating disorders, that is not my specialty or niche . However, I do know of who in my community could provide this service and pass the information on accordingly. It would be unethical for me to try to treat a client with an issue that I have not been trained in. In addition, other therapists may refer to me, if someone is looking for a person who specializes in grief, loss, pet bereavement, depression and anxiety. This, I am trained for. It is a win, win, win all around for both therapists and the client. This type of networking also helps to build a healthy community.
4. The Focus of Therapy is on You: Through collaboration in therapy, you are in a partnership with your therapist. The therapist wants to hear what your goals, needs and wishes are and what you like and dislike about therapy. He or she is open to feedback. The two of you work together on your treatment and what you want to get out of therapy. This does not mean that the therapist will not lead the session, assist in refocusing, ask questions, or provide reliable and valid theories and interventions. The therapist still does his or her job, but you are as important in the process. This in turn, may help to build up client self-concept, strength, resilience and empowerment. A collaborative therapist does not act like he or she “always knows best”.
5. Communication: Communication is open with a collaborative therapist. There is honesty and again, sharing. Open communication can lead to a trusting alliance and strong rapport with a client. This type of dynamic is crucial for therapeutic work to be done.
I hope that this was helpful in giving you a little bit of knowledge about the awesomeness of collaboration. Collaborative energy may assist in everyone winning. Collaboration builds all up, instead of tearing all down.