Therapeutic Fit: What it is, and why it’s important.

Written By: Erika DeSchiffart, Psychotherapist with Capital Choice Counselling Group


If you have been searching, or have searched for a therapist, you may have come across this term: “Therapeutic Fit”. It will usually come in the form of statements such as “finding a good therapeutic fit” or “having a good therapeutic fit”.

So what is it exactly? A key place we need to start when understanding therapeutic fit is to know what exactly therapy is. It involves many things, such as evidence-based treatments for various mental health and wellbeing issues, but as psychologist Dr. Ann Becker Schutte writes in her blog, “at its heart therapy is a relationship”. That’s because therapy involves two people, working together towards common goals. We’ve all had group experiences where working with a partner has been less than ideal, not necessarily because of a lack of skill in our partner, but because of the relational dynamics.

It’s the same in therapy. Beyond ensuring that your therapist has the necessary qualifications, skills, and expertise, the relationship with your therapist has to feel comfortable. And what it takes for someone to be comfortable is different for everyone, meaning that not every skilled, conveniently located therapist is the right one for you. Sometimes it can take making several phone calls to different therapists, or perhaps meeting more than one therapist in order to find therapeutic fit.

When you have a good therapeutic fit, you’ll know. As Dr. Schutte states, therapeutic fit is “hard to describe, but easy to recognize”. You should feel respected by your therapist, that they understand and care for your situation. They should make you feel safe to say what you need to say, and to explore what you need to explore. Beyond that, maybe you need them to get your sense of humour, or to relate in more direct way.

Having said that, no relationship is perfect. This means even in a good working relationship there is miscommunication and hurt feelings. Before searching out a new therapist, this can be a great time to practice repair and reconciliation, something that may be missing in your life outside of therapy. Your therapist should respond well to your concerns, with an open and non-defensive stance. A therapist skilled in therapeutic fit will do this, transforming what could have been a relationship-ending incident.

While it can be nebulous to define, it turns out that many outcome studies state that therapeutic fit is the key factor to success in therapy. That’s why at Capital Choice Counselling our main aim is to help you find therapeutic fit. We’re a small enough team that our office personnel know each therapist personally, meaning they know the nuances beyond expertise and education. We’re also a big enough team to provide a variety of expertise, with a variety of personality and therapeutic styles to meet client’s needs. After speaking with you, we can suggest a couple therapists to you, and then you can follow up with phone consultations with each to confirm fit. Or, we can match you with the therapist that meets your needs for expertise, experience, location, as well as therapy style. You can reach Capital Choice at 613-425-4257 to begin the process of finding the right counsellor for you.