How to Get the Most Out of Therapy When You’re an INFJ or INFP

an INFJ or INFP personality gets the most out of therapy

For INFJs and INFPs, finding the right therapist can feel daunting. You might be thinking:

“Do I even need therapy?”

“Will my therapist really ‘get’ me?”

and most commonly…

“Is my therapist going to think there’s something wrong with me because I’m such an overthinker??”

As a therapist myself, I know it can be anxiety-provoking for clients just to think about starting the therapy journey. But for these two personality types (I’ve treated both), it will ultimately be a worthwhile cause. Here are some of the challenges these personalities might face in therapy, plus five tips for them to get the most out of it.

What’s an INFJ and INFP?

The INFJ and INFP are two personality types described by the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, which explores 16 total personality types as a result of one’s preferences indicated on the assessment. “INFJ” stands for Introvert, Intuitive, Feeler, and Judger. This personality is described as insightful, creative, sensitive, and serious. “INFP” stands for Introvert, Intuitive, Feeler, and Perceiver, and is described as quietly caring, compassionate, creative, and inquisitive.

Both types are introverts, which explains their need to re-energize by spending time alone. Some introverts can be very outwardly social, but they need downtime to recover after being around people. Introverts also tend to have a very rich inner life. They think about the complexities of life, tend to think carefully before they speak, and if left unchecked, they can be susceptible to overthinking and anxiety.

INFJs and INFPs are thought to be two of the rarest personality types. INFJs are estimated to make up about 1-2 percent of the population, while INFPs make up approximately 4 percent.

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However, in my personal experience as a therapist, I see more of these two in the therapy room than any other personality type. These types tend to be deep thinkers who value harmony and personal growth. These common values, along with their sensitivity to life stressors, may be what makes therapy a helpful and appealing option.

The Challenges INFJs and INFPs Face in Therapy

But therapy can also bring challenges for these rare personality types. For one, it can be difficult for them to find a therapist who really “gets” them — a feeling that intuitive types like the INFJ and INFP experience regularly but can’t always describe. If you feel like you continually have to explain yourself to your therapist, or justify your actions, that might be a sign to look for a better fit.

It can also be easy for INFJs and INFPs to overthink things in therapy and always be striving towards perfection. As deep thinkers, it can be tempting for them to ruminate over decisions and not trust their own judgement — but always striving for the “perfect” answer can leave you doubting a “good enough” decision. In therapy, I always emphasize that you are ultimately the expert of your own life.

A main goal of therapy is to learn to trust yourself more, and not rely solely on the therapist’s opinion. So it’s important to find a therapist who’s the right fit for you — as well as do your part to get into the right mindset in order to get the most out of therapy.

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5 Tips for INFJs and INFPs to Get the Most Out of Therapy

1. Make sure your therapist just “gets it.”

As an introvert, your personality type tends to have fewer but closer friendships. You value depth of relationships more than small talk. You will quickly get bored with a therapist who stays surface-level and doesn’t get to the deeper meaning and emotion behind your initial concerns. You will also quickly be able to judge a therapist’s confidence level, and you’ll want someone who is confident they will be able to help you.

Make sure they “just get it.” Follow that gut instinct of yours and go with the therapist who you feel you can trust and connect with. For therapy to be effective, it’s way more important for you to feel a connection with your therapist than it is for them to have all the degrees in the world. Most therapists offer a free consultation over the phone so that you can get to know them a bit before setting up the first appointment.

2. Express your emotions freely.

INFJs and INFPs tend to feel things very deeply. Many consider themselves empaths or highly sensitive people. Accepting this trait will be an important part of therapy. Once you find a space where you know you won’t be judged, it’s okay to let the tears flow! A healthy therapist with appropriate training can handle you crying. This is your time, and it should feel like a welcomed release of any built-up emotions.

3. Set realistic goals.

Both of these personality types have the tendency to be perfectionists. But perfection is not an attainable goal for anyone; it just doesn’t exist. Be aware of your perfectionistic tendencies and the (good) desire to become your ideal self. Talk with your therapist about your goals. You might say something like, “I would like to get rid of my anxiety completely,” which unfortunately, probably just isn’t possible — although anxiety can be managed and alleviated, it usually doesn’t 100% permanently go away.

By talking about your expectations, you can make sure to come up with realistic goals so you’re setting yourself up for success.

4. Ask for direct feedback.

INFJs and INFPs have a keen ability to notice the unspoken and read between the lines. You may call this your “gut instinct” about something or someone.

This can be a wonderful strength because you may sense the direction your therapist is going in before they even get there. This can also be a barrier if you think you are sensing some animosity from your therapist. Always ask!

For example, it’s okay to say, “I’m getting the sense that you think I’m making the wrong decision. Can you give me more feedback on this decision?” Your therapist should have the ability to validate how you’re feeling and stay unbiased at the same time.

I know it can be hard to be this direct, especially for INFJs and INFPs, who value harmony in their relationships. Remember that your therapist is human, and always ask if you are unsure about what they are trying to say to you.

5. Accept the process.

The therapy process will look different for everyone. Counseling may be a long-term version of self-care for you. You may decide to see your therapist once a month, or every few months, for maintenance and ongoing support. Or you and your counselor might set an end date for your current time in counseling, but it’s clear that you can come back at any time if you feel you’re needing a “tune up.”

As an INFJ or INFP, you always have the desire to improve. You want to be your true and authentic, ideal self. With a good therapist, you will feel significantly clearer and be better able to cope with life’s stressors, but there is no “magic cure” that counseling can offer. It might be hard for you to end your counseling experience, once you’ve reached your initial goal. And that’s okay — you have options. Whatever your decision may be, remember that you will always be improving and growing. That’s core to who you are as an INFJ or INFP.

Despite the challenges, counseling can be very rewarding for INFJs and INFPs. Your depth can be your biggest strength, and the ability and desire for deeper insight can make counseling very beneficial. If you put in the effort and start with the right mindset, you will set yourself up for a successful experience.

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