Do you find yourself thinking about seeking counselling but don’t know where to start?
The struggle to finding a therapist that is right for you is unique to each one of you but also dependant on the specific phase of life that you are in. These 10 tips can offer you some food for thought for your choice.
1. Think about whether a male or a female therapist matters to you? Would you open up more to a man or a woman? And why? Really try to think why that may be the case. It’s not always better to choose the easy option (easy being the one you feel most comfortable with) as choosing the more difficult path and provided that you stick to walking that path, it will yield deeper and more long-lasting results for you.
2. Does your therapist have to have been in the same situation as you? Do they have to have been through the same trauma? Do you need to know? In my experience (and depending on the therapist’s approach) you will most likely never find out your therapist’s past. This is very important because your knowledge of their past will always interfere in the therapeutic work that is meant to be for you. So, clear boundaries are necessary and ethical.
3. Has your therapist undergone their own therapy? Because you do need to know that they know what it’s like to be a client, having undergone several years of therapy themselves. Check their qualifications and the professional bodies they belong to, as that will give you an understanding of the requirements for their qualification.
4. Do you need to see someone specialising in a specific area? For example, bereavement, post-traumatic stress disorder, marital problems? Check their credentials and the professional bodies/organisations they belong to, to ascertain if they have any specialisms.
The main professional bodies are BACP, UKCP and BPC.
5. What approach do they use? There are several counselling approaches, i.e. psychodynamic, CBT, integrative, person-centred. I would advise that you research the different approaches so you have an idea of what suits you best in this particular phase of your life.
6. Also, counselling can be done on a longer-term or a shorter-term basis. It’s worth thinking about what you would like as it will determine the focus and pace of counselling. What do you feel you need best right now? Have you had counselling experience before? Do you need something different from last time?
7. Call the ones you have earmarked as potential therapists and see if they have availability. The call is also an opportunity to ask them any questions and see if you connect in the first instance. Allow yourself time to meet more than one therapists before you make a decision.
8. Choosing a therapist is a real investment – emotionally and financially. So, it’s important to take time to choose the best therapist for you.
9. On the money front – yes, therapy can be very expensive as it is a regular weekly commitment. I invite you to think about the amount of money we spend on other activities and how important your mental wellbeing is. We would not think as much whether we spend the money on our physical health. Our mental health and learning to care for ourselves with the help of a therapist, is very important too and it has long-lasting effects on you and the people close to you.
10. Referrals – so if you do muster the courage and ask for referrals from someone else, do check the therapist out. A referral is a very strong and positive indication. But one word of caution – just because that therapist was good for someone else, it does not mean they will be good for you too. So, trust your instinct and invest in the time to meet more than one therapists if you need to.
Anything else that you think is important in choosing a therapist, I would love to hear your thoughts.
If you would like to enquire about counselling with me, please feel free to get in touch for a free 15-min conversation.