How do I choose my therapist?
You have decided that therapy is the right thing for you, congratulations on this big step. Now you need to find the right therapist to help you on your journey. You need to look around your area for therapists who not only have the appropriate qualifications but also have experience supporting people with similar difficulties as yourself. It is also important to find someone who you feel you can talk to comfortably about often intimate, personal details. Two of the better websites for this are Counselling Directory, and the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy’s ‘It’s Good to Talk’. On here you can find therapists near you and quickly discover some further information about them, such as their specialities, qualifications and personality.
Below are the things you need to look for when appointing a therapist. At the very least, I hope this article helps you in your quest to find a suitable counsellor.
Ask Friends and Family
Do any of your friends or family see a therapist? Referrals are a great place to start. As with all professions, each therapist has their individual strengths and specialities. Having a recommendation from a friend or a family member can help to ease those initial concerns that we all have when looking to use a service that is new and unfamiliar. The only consideration to make here is if the therapist recommended is right for you. They may be perfect for your friend or family member, but that could be down to that therapist’s personality or specialisms. It is always worth doing some research and having an informal chat with your potential therapist before making any decisions.
Use Your Resources
If your friends and family can’t refer you to someone, then the next best thing is to call any local support groups that may be relevant to you, like Alcoholics Anonymous or Survivor of Abuse, to see if they could recommend any therapists in your area. This can be especially helpful if you are struggling with addictions, trauma or have a mental illness as the coordinators may be able to direct you towards a therapist that specialises in the issues you are going through. Or if you already attend these meetings, you could ask your fellow members if any of them have any recommendations. Asking for a few different names can help you in your journey to choosing a therapist. It gives you a place to start from rather than just feeling lost in your search.
However, you need to make sure that you don’t just settle for the one that is most convenient. If you pick a therapist purely based on their location, they might not be the right fit for you, or you could find it difficult to feel at ease with them. You need to be comfortable if you are going to have successful sessions and move forwards. Make sure you give therapists that are slightly further afield the same chance as those around the corner. They could be more understanding of your situation, plus if you are afraid of bumping into them in the supermarket there is a lot less chance of that happening!
Talk to The Therapists
Send an email or pick up the phone. Sometimes the best way to find out more information about your prospective therapist is by simply getting in touch. They may even offer an initial phone or face to face consultation where you can see if they are the right fit for you. Don’t be afraid of asking questions. It’s so important that you find someone you really believe can support you and that you can be honest and open with. Ask questions about their experience helping people with similar difficulties, how they conduct their sessions and anything else that comes to mind. Do remember they will not be able to go into much detail due to client confidentiality. You may want to jot down your questions and thoughts before speaking to the therapist for the first time so that you can get across everything you need to ask in order to help you to make an informed decision.
You will want to find out what qualifications they hold and what areas of counselling or psychotherapy their expertise is in. In addition to all this, you will want to ensure that they are licensed to practice as a therapist. Don’t be afraid to ask for evidence of this. It’s worth mentioning that you can usually find this information on the therapist’s own website or websites like BACP (British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy) and the Counselling Directory.
When choosing your therapist, you should search for internet reviews. There might be sites or forums that list the positives and negatives of certain therapists. Honest reviews can help you to narrow down your list before you start contacting people. You might be able to understand who can and who can’t help you by hearing about other people’s’ experiences, saving you time in your search. Even a therapist’s own website might have comments and reviews from old or current clients.
Try to read between the lines and see if you can understand why those people have gone to this specific therapist. If you read several reviews where the clients have all sought help for a similar situation or difficulty which is vastly different to yours, this therapist may be more experienced in that field and not be quite right for you. Once you are down to your last few, you can then see if you have a connection, over the phone or face to face. Your therapist needs to understand why you are seeking therapy and where your mental health difficulties stem from in order to help. The best way to see if there could be a connection is to talk to them.
If you are still in two minds, you could always make an appointment to see if you feel comfortable with this therapist, you can usually tell from the first few sessions. These sessions should focus on developing a shared understanding of what is really the matter. This isn’t a diagnosis of depression or anxiety, but actually the psychology behind these difficulties.
Choosing your therapist will be so much easier once you understand what to expect from them. A mutual understanding of the mental challenges you face is necessary for a successful treatment.
When picking a therapist, there are many important factors you need to consider. Choosing blindly or not doing some research before making your choice can result in the sessions not being as successful as they could have been. You need to place trust in your therapist and if you don’t find one that makes you feel at ease it could take longer for you to heal. If you think therapy can help you understand and overcome your difficulties, then contact me today for more information about my services.