In today’s video, I share my thoughts on what I look for in a therapist or a coach.

Read or watch below to learn more about what I look for in a therapist.

Zachary Stockill: I have been a full-time coach working on the issue of relationships and jealousy for about 10 years now. It probably won’t surprise many of you that there have been various moments in my life in which I have sought out a coach, mentor, teacher, or therapist.

A lot of people ask me questions relating to how to know if someone’s going to be a good coach or therapist. So in today’s video, I wanted to share a few of my thoughts on what to look for in a therapist or coach.

The first thing I would say as a disclaimer is this is not professional mental health advice. I am not trying to interfere with anyone’s course of professional mental health intervention. This is not professional mental health advice. These are just some of my own reflections.

One of the things that I look for in a therapist a coach, and a mentor, is a sense of humor.

what I look for in a therapist

And when I was putting together this video, this was really the first thing that jumped to mind. I think having some kind of sense of humor, the ability to laugh at things, maybe even inappropriate things, is really important.

Frankly, I don’t trust people who don’t laugh a lot. Life is really funny. And I don’t trust people who don’t acknowledge, or who can’t see that on a regular basis. And I also think humor can be a great tool in terms of improving our mental health.

It doesn’t matter which issue we’re facing… If we can find something to laugh at, in that situation, it bodes extremely well for our recovery. It bodes extremely well for actually transcending that challenge. I think laughing at ourselves in the world, and life, is very important.

And I don’t trust therapists and or coaches who don’t seem to have any kind of sense of humor. If they can’t poke fun at life, and situations as they arise, I don’t necessarily trust them.

On a related note, another thing that I look for in a therapist in a coach is people who aren’t necessarily moral crusaders. You probably know what I’m talking about. I’m not interested in connecting with ideologues. And I’m not interested in trying to connect with someone who’s trying to convince me of a certain way of looking at a situation.

I’m certainly not interested in connecting with someone who isn’t open to my viewpoints and perspectives.

And the unfortunate reality is, that nowadays, in many mental health-related fields, there are a lot of moral crusaders. There are people who seem to think that rather than helping to facilitate change in individuals, rather than listening to people, there are a lot of mental health professionals who are moral crusaders who are caught up in all kinds of social justice issues.

And to my mind, for me, personally, this is an enormous red flag. I think any kind of moral crusader attitude can be pretty dangerous.

In a mental health setting, I also want to connect with someone who is an active listener.

A good way how to know if someone is an active listener is if they ask you specific follow-up questions based on what you’re telling them.

There’s a big difference between that and people who simply kind of listen or half listen. And then just throw generalized questions back out at you all the time.

Coaching, therapy, these things are often highly individualistic, you have to take an individualistic or individualized approach. And it’s pretty easy to tell pretty early on in an interaction when a therapist or a coach is relying on a generalized sense of you or of the problem, and not really listening. I think listening is maybe the most important component of good therapy, coaching, teachers, and mentorship.

And if someone isn’t an active listener, and can’t prove that by asking pointed questions, it’s probably not going to be a good match.

Above all, when you’re looking for a good therapist or a coach, I would say shop around.

That’s my biggest piece of advice when people ask me how to find a good therapist.

Don’t settle for someone who you don’t feel some kind of connection with. Don’t settle for someone who you don’t respect. And for someone who isn’t actively listening to you, actively asking good follow-up questions.

So shop around. Sometimes, it can take time, depending on where you are in the world, depending on how open you are to doing online therapy or coaching. It can take time to find a good therapist or a coach.

But when you do find a really good therapist or coach, it can truly be life-changing. So don’t settle in your quest for a good therapist or coach.

And if you are struggling with something like retroactive jealousy or jealousy in your relationship, I would love to work with you. As I say, I’ve been coaching for a long time. If you’d like more information about my coaching methodology, please click here to learn more about my own personal coaching service.

A quick note also for retroactive jealousy sufferers in particular. A common complaint I hear from people when they email me is “My therapist had no idea about retroactive jealousy…”

Many of these people tell me that they even felt judged by their therapist or coach when they were talking about their feelings about their partner’s past.

what I look for in a therapist

I think if you’re feeling judged by your coach or therapist, that’s a pretty good indication that this is not going to be the right therapist or coach for you to work with.

Look for people who have some empathy, awareness, and understanding of what we call retroactive jealousy.

I should also note, as many of you know, that it can be difficult to find someone with any basic familiarity with retroactive jealousy. This is still not a very prominent issue, so clinical knowledge of retroactive jealousy is in its infancy.

So be sure to shop around and find someone who has that knowledge, and has worked specifically on this issue of retroactive jealousy.

If you are currently struggling with retroactive jealousy, you can click here to sign up for a free four-part mini-course.

Or, if you need more help, then you can consider signing up for one-on-one coaching with me. [Subject to availability]


Zachary Stockill
Zachary Stockill

Hi! I'm a Canadian author and educator whose work has been featured in BBC News, BBC Radio 4, The Huffington Post, and many other publications. I'm the founder of RetroactiveJealousy.com, the author of Overcoming Retroactive Jealousy and The Overcoming Jealousy Workbook, and the host of Humans in Love podcast.