We may not be the perfect fit. And that speaks to the unique relationship and individuality of the therapist-client bond.
When you think of me as a potential therapist, I want you to literally think of me like a pair of shoes. What I mean by this, is we may not be a "fit". I know this is not going to be a popular post for many people (both clients and therapists alike), but for me, it is very relevant and honest, and important in terms of ensuring I am serving my clients to the best of my abilities and not going outside of my competencies or keeping them stuck.
So, when you think of a pair of shoes, a few different things come to mind. You may think of the fact that shoes come in a variety of sizes. They also come in a variety of forms, such as sneakers, sandals, mules, heels, no heels, boots, etc. Shoes can also be for kids, adults, women, men, or be more gender neutral. Shoes may be intended for a specific purpose, such as for use at work, or in sports practices and games, or for hiking and walking, or for walking around at the beach. Point being, while there is versatility, there are also very specific elements that each pair of shoes possesses.
I tend to think of myself (and many other therapists) in a similar way. Many clinicians are either child or adult based in terms of the population they work with. Additionally, we will usually have a specialization (think intended purpose that I was referring to earlier) that we focus on, with the possibility for some additional skills outside of this area of expertise. Also, many of us will have a certain personality or "feel" to us (this might be where the sense of a sneaker, boot, sandal, etc. comes into play) in terms of how we are experienced by our clients as well as what our different approaches to counseling entail. Again, this is my attempt to equate myself with a pair of shoes, so some things may get lost in translation here, but I still believe this helps to break things down quite a bit.
This is important because I have had a few clients begin therapy who needed to "end" therapy with a different clinician. What I mean by this is that I eventually referred the client to another therapist due to our work being done. Essentially, the client's presenting concerns included issues that were within my wheelhouse and we appeared to be a good overall fit. Additionally, we worked through alot of what was not going well in the person's life. However, we both likely reached the conclusion that other things were also going on that needed exploring and addressing that were not within my competency or skillset. And this is where I made the decision to refer the client out for additional help with a clinician who possesses these skills or specialization. In some cases, this is also where I encounter hesitation, frustration, anger, and outright refusal, all of which are understandable but are also counterproductive to my client's progress and overall healing.
I understand that people may want me to be a part of their entire therapeutic journey. But the terrain changes overtime, and a pair of sneakers may not serve you well on the mountains. Likewise, sometimes boots are too stifling if you are suddenly walking through the sand. I'm not always going to be the right fit for everyone for all time. I also don't want to be the right fit for everyone. That would be too generic and watered down. And way too busy in my opinion. But I do want to be the right fit for some people for some or most of the journey. And hopefully, I will be the right fit for some people for all of it.