I have been a member of a team of 5-10 therapists three times now, and as I’ve looked around at my peers there has consistently been one or two that I could see working with myself, even if I may have respected others as bringing something of value to the team. In my office now there are three of us and I can tell you that there is a difference in the clients that will succeed with each of us, though some people may struggle along with the wrong person without realizing how much further they may have gotten with the right one. When I think about differences between the one I’ve worked with longest, E, I frame it as that I am an agent of change, while she is an agent of acceptance. We’ve had some patient flow back and forth, and the people who come to me after seeing her always say something along the lines of “I mean, she’s nice, but…” They’re bored, seems to be the thing. I know the people who’ve had the nerve to call to say they need to cancel a second appointment with me and accept the referral to her (I always offer that we’re very different and I think it might work for them) seem to like her. They’re a type, too. Timid, possibly woo (sorry!) and simply overwhelmed by my energy and questions - as E is! I asked her about a client the other day and got this nervous “oh! I don’t know, I hadn’t really thought about it.” (I’m standing there, giving her time to think about it.) “I guess…no, I don’t know. You just…always have questions!” Which is fair, but it’s because I largely ignore her unless I have a specific need, which generally comes in the form of a question. And it always makes her react as if I’ve pulled a gun on her, even though I swear to God I’m polite and pleasant.
So that would seem to support your statement, but on the other hand people’s energy will not successfully pull an exciting exploration of one’s internal landscape from E, nor pull whatever she’s doing in there (her case notes seem to focus on things like “honoring her role as mother”) from me, because why not work on being a good mother if the client has anxiety around her mothering? So at the end of the day, the client’s energy will determine whether they have success with me or with E, but their energy won’t make me acceptance or her change, though of course we’re both competent, so there is overlap and more than one way to get to “better.”
I will agree that I move at different paces with different people and focus myself differently depending on need and ability, but…some of them might do better with a better match. Our newest therapist is “green,” but also seems not to be as bright as one would like. She would be a good match for people who need coping strategies rather than insight. Clear, simple - she’s working with worksheets she printed off the internet. Clients who can’t follow talk alone and don’t want to hear me quote Mark Twain on anger or Hillel the Elder on self-responsibility would be happy with that, and would be helped. I should probably do more of it with my less insightful people. I tend to forget they’re there except as props to talk about.