second opinion service for ongoing psychotherapies
In medicine, independent second opinions are commonly sought by patients and healthcare professionals in the normal course of evaluating diagnostic impressions and treatment options. With psychotherapy, "second opinions" often arise from the clinical supervision of the treating therapist. A therapist whom does not engage in supervision of cases or is guided by one theoretical approach may develop blind spots or difficulties in the course of a therapy. A client whom feels like their therapy (or that of their child) is not "working" and honest attempts at understanding the impasse or difficulties have failed, there may be a need for an outside perspective. The seeking of a second opinion need not carry with it shame, guilt or fears of the reaction of either the therapist or client. A second opinion, in fact, is a right of every client.
A second opinion is initiated through contact by the treating therapist or client. Consultation with the therapist is conducted by Austin Wilmot, MSW, LCSW, as well as interview with the client. There are times where interview with the client is not necessary. A report of findings and impressions is shared with the therapist to inform the course of treatment and to share with the client, as clinically indicated. The fee is discussed during the initial contact.
Why is a second opinion a good option?
Just finding a new therapist is often the only action thought left to be taken when someone feels dissatisfied enough with their own (or their child's) therapy progress and/or therapist.
It may be difficult to resolve the ambivalent feelings of whether to terminate or stay, since this particular therapist understands so much about you and your (or your child's) issues and has been helpful in a variety of ways. The idea of looking for a new therapist seems unappealing, bringing back memories of the search process (checking availability, fee, location, etc.), making calls, and having to tell your "story" all over again without quite knowing if it will work out better this time. These concerns are understandable.
Clients have the right to obtain a second opinion while they have not officially terminated from their current therapist. A second opinion, when appropriately and timely rendered, has the potential to direct transformation of the existing therapy (and therapeutic relationship) by way of new understanding, cultivating new growth and creativity within the therapeutic situation. This can be invaluable. A second opinion can also provide a basis for other decisions, including termination, but with a deeper understanding of the underlying dynamics that must be understood in order to know what to look for in a new therapist and what to be aware of in yourself that might show up in the next therapy.