If you are a fan of the television show The Walking Dead, you may be familiar with the "three questions". The show's main character has developed a set of questions that he asks the new people he encounters in his post apocalyptic world. They are meant to measure trustworthiness and humanity. The answers are very interesting and seem to be a good way to quickly find out a great deal of information about a person.
With that as my inspiration, I have devised my own set of four questions to quickly evaluate the effectiveness of previous psychotherapy. I also hope that my own clients could easily answer these questions when asked.
JEFFREY'S FOUR QUESTIONS FOR GOOD THERAPY
Good therapy is intended to be a process of self discovery that stays with you. If you answer yes to question #1 I would hope you don't have to think too long to answer question #2. It is question #3 and #4 that separate adequate therapy from exceptional therapy.
DEEP AND NARROW
Many clients in psychotherapy don’t recognize that the therapeutic relationship is also a real genuine relationship between two people. It is obviously different and limited in its scope as compared to a friendship or even a colleague relationship. In a way it is both deeper and shallower at the same time. I guess you could describe it as deep and narrow, like a gorge, whereas a non therapy close relationship is more of a whole continent.
TRANSFERENCE AND THE LAB
The therapy office can serve as a “lab” in which you can study yourself IN a real relationship in real-time. The value of this lab work is immeasurable and the results are permanent. Therapists call this relationship work between client and therapist transference work or working in the transference. If you want your therapy to truly change you, ask your therapist if you can "work with the transference".
WORKING IN THE TRANSFERENCE
If you feel anger, hurt, or warmth toward your therapist and you share those feelings with him or her, your have begun to work in the transference. You can then begin to explore valuable lessons and experiment with novel communication tools in the room. A therapist that is not comfortable listening to and accepting your feelings toward them is not a good therapist. It takes bravery to open up to a therapist and many clients don't and miss out on such great work.
So, if you answered “yes” to question #4, you most likely had excellent therapy. You and your therapist were able to communicate effectively WITHIN the relationship and thus tolerate the anxiety of truly opening up to someone. This practice can help you become more honest and forthcoming with those you love in your life outside of therapy.
What you can do in the office, you can begin to do outside the office.