This article aims to address how to choose a therapist. Therapists have different skills, training, experience, academic qualifications, accreditation, level of personal development. Finding the right therapist for you can be a bit hit and miss. Here are some helpful hints and tips to help you find the right therapist for you.
Where can I find a therapist?
You might be referred to a particular therapist through your GP or through a friend or relative. Having a personal recommendation from someone you know can make a decision easier. It is worth noting that we are all different and one person’s experience of therapy and experience of a therapist might differ depending on their psychological problem or readiness for therapy.
If you do not have a personal recommendation or referral from your GP and are looking for private therapy, there are two mainstream databases. The first is The Counselling Directory and the second is The UK Council for Psychotherapy. Both have a stringent process for checking a therapist’s credentials and training.
Should I have private therapy or go through the NHS?
Therapy on the NHS might require you to wait longer and be for a specific length of time. Sometimes we might not be able to wait for help and we need more time to resolve our difficulties than is specified by NHS treatment. Of course, some people are not able to afford private therapy making the NHS therapy option more appealing
Training levels vary greatly depending on which psychological healthcare professional you see. Counselling training is likely to be shorter and less in depth. Psychotherapy training is likely to be more in depth often with a personal development element. This means that the psychotherapist has had to attend psychotherapy and go through their own psychotherapy process. In addition, a psychotherapist is also likely to have stringent supervision in place and support in order to best aid a client and take care of themselves.
Most therapists have chosen a profession where they get to help people through difficulties they might have experienced themselves and are genuinely there to help people. Unfortunately a small number of therapists are not in a position to help people in a professional way. These types of therapists are usually unaccredited who have set themselves up without the right training, correct level of support or professional or personal development. In order to have a positive therapy experience it is advisable to use a therapist who has BACP or UKCP accreditation.
What type of therapist should I see?
If you are having a psychological difficulty which is due to current circumstances and is a normal difficulty like a bereavement you might seek out some counselling. If you have had some difficulty for a long time and you believe that your difficulties stem from upbringing trauma or abuse you might consider seeing a psychotherapist. A psychotherapist is more likely to be able to do more in depth work with you to help you make more long term changes. Please see our article on What’s The Difference Between Counselling & Psychotherapy.
The therapist you decide to see has to be someone that you feel you are going to be able to develop a relationship with. Healing can only take place in a strong, safe, robust therapeutic relationship. One of the best ways to choose a therapist is to go and see a few which you think can help and decide whether or not you have or could develop a connection. Trust your gut!
Simple criteria for choosing a therapist might include the cost or location. Can you afford it and are you able to get to therapy at the allocated time each week? Like anything attending regularly helps you to develop and reap the rewards of psychotherapeutic work.
Seeing a therapist on a regular basis is a process which takes time. A therapist facilitates healing in a process whereby you get to know yourself. You develop the qualities you need to heal from trauma or overcome difficulties. Essentially it is not the therapist that does the work it is you. A therapist acts merely as a guide to enable you to heal yourself. This process takes time but can be a very rewarding worthwhile thing to do not just to overcome a difficultly but to develop into the best version of yourself you can be.