Therapy: Is it Comfortable, or Familiar ?

In a previous blog piece I mentioned that when hiring a therapist one of the primary things you’re looking for is a good fit. But how do you determine this?
While some items can be from a checklist of qualifications such a licensing, credentials, previous licensing board complaints (hopefully, not!), and insurance coverage, beyond those specifics you need to go with your gut instinct! You need to distinguish between the feeling of being comfortable and the knowing of familiarity. It’s about how you feel with a therapist, not what you think about him/her.
The section below is copied from an email I had in my folders and I am not sure of its original source (I will be happy to give the credit to whoever it is should you recognize it). It does a great job explaining the difference:
Familiar and Comfortable
The difference between familiar and comfortable is this:
Familiar = what the mind knows as common
Comfortable = how you feel inside or how your heart feels

And people often stay with the familiar, even when they are uncomfortable. Somehow, somewhere people often think familiar and comfortable are the same thing. They are familiar with it and don’t want to change because they thing that is what makes them comfortable. Not realizing comfortable has nothing to do with familiar. You can feel comfortable when you are familiar or when you are NOT familiar.

So the action step(s) for this insight would be recognize when wanting to stay in the familiar is holding you back in life and take action anyway.

Recognize when you are uncomfortable you can still have the familiar. And sometimes to be comfortable means going to the unfamiliar.

What most people want more than anything is comfortable, not familiar. When you remember the difference you can more easily move towards comfortable, even if it is not familiar

When choosing a therapist you are searching for a comfortable feeling, a good rapport, something that feels safe, even though you may have never really felt safe in your life. When I found my current therapist it came as a sense of relief , the relief that it was safe to “let my guard down”. I feel that I can freely express myself without being judged or criticized, and feel the freedom be exactly who I am, and as I am in the present moment.
These feelings need to be present if therapy is to be successful.


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