Different Types of Psychotherapists

Aside from their schools and their techniques, individual psychotherapists fall into these four categories:

The Nurturers

Nurturing psychotherapists are serious but have a warm approach. They are excellent listeners and paraphrase back to you what you told them. They often stand up and hug you or cry with you if necessary. They help you to accept your fears and anxiety and give you tips to rearrange your life and the life of others to accommodate your problem. The result is that your condition worsens over the years. for example, If you are afraid of going to the shopping mall on your own, they suggest to keep asking for help and having others come with you and continue to offer you reassurances. In short, they please you in every way except for solving your problem. They often become an unwitting accomplice of your fears and anxiety and foster a relationship marked with emotional dependence.

The Interrogators

Interrogating psychotherapist are those that ask the most detailed questions and take a long time to give an initial assessment. I’m reminded of a movie producer that came to see me for his anxiety attacks. He told me that he had taken anti-anxiety medication but stopped taking them because he felt he was “totally absent”. After which he started therapy with a psychologist who took 10 sessions just to assess his anxiety in all its details. Interrogators are good listeners like “the Nurturers” and in addition they are good at excavating deep into your inner life. They do not offer you a shoulder to cry but want to know all about your fears, anxiety and even your dreams – in great detail.

The Buddies

Faithful buddies do not have a serious or formal attitude; rather they are warm and always available. They give you their cell phone number to call them if you had a panic attack or needed an urgent chat. The psychotherapists that assume this role, actually don’t need any degree or training, since all they need is a warm personality and a bit of common sense. You recognize them because they offer you the kind of advice that you could get from a friend that is a sensible person. The difference is that the latter is free.

Paid buddies often talk about books that they have read and recommend you to read such and such to help you with your fear and anxiety. The relationship is so warm and friendly that you feel guilty to leave, even though you realize that you haven’t benefited a bit from them. You stay because they have become a part of your life and you wouldn’t betray a friend. Well, the fact that you pay them is a minor detail. After all, you might reason, they are my psychotherapist and I have to pay for their time.

The Weird Ones

Fortunately weird therapists are rare. Most of them are not certified or licensed but have attended training courses and read psychology books. Among them you might find some NLP practitioners who may throw a glass of water on your face to stop your repeating patterns of phobia and anxiety. I recall many years ago, one of these practitioners told me that he picked his nose every time a female client burst in tears. He explained that he wanted to break her limiting pattern of anxiety. They call it pattern interrupt and explain that her brain would associate the unpleasant sight of someone picking his nose with anxiety and thus she would not want to feel anxious.