Therapy can be a life-changing experience but it’s not an easy process to engage in. Opening up to a stranger about your problems and vulnerabilities can feel daunting so it is vital that you feel safe, understood and confident in your therapist’s abilities.
When looking for the right therapist, you could easily find yourself down a rabbit hole of google searches and a confusing variety of terms such as ‘counsellor’, ‘psychotherapist’ and ‘cognitive-behavioural therapist’. In this blog I’m going to give you a starting point to selecting the right therapist for you and outline the important factors to consider.
Talking therapies is an unregulated field however there are professional bodies who require therapists to have trained to a particular standard, follow their ethical guidelines and engage in ongoing clinical supervision and training. Therefore, make sure that anyone you consider is accredited with either the British Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapies or the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy. Both websites feature helpful search engines. You can also ask any therapists you are interested in if they are accredited with these organisations, and they should be able to provide you with their membership numbers.
Before you book an appointment with a therapist, drop them an email or give them a call to find out more. Bear in mind that you may need to leave an answerphone message as many therapists will have their voicemail on when they are in sessions.
Consider what you want from therapy: is there a particular problem you would like to focus on such as bereavement, depression, social anxiety or relationship problems? Does the therapist have experience or working with this problem? What training have they undertaken? Most therapists have a website where they will share this information, but if you are unsure don’t be afraid to drop them an email or give them a call to ask them about their training and experience.
Consider how much you are willing and able to pay for treatment. Consider what you would usually spend on things like gym membership, massage, beauty treatments, takeaways etc., and remember that this is a valuable investment in your mental health. Most therapists charge per session, so get an idea of how many sessions you may be committing to and what this adds up to financially. Ask if they offer any kinds of discounts which you may be eligible for. Another option if you are struggling to pay is to consider whether you have any health insurance, perhaps through your employer, which could support you with costs. Finally, if it’s simply looking like something you can’t afford on your current budget there is alway the option of free treatment via the NHS. Find out more by speaking to your GP or googling your local Improving Access to Psychological Therapies service.
Another thing to consider is location. Where does the therapist practice from, is it a convenient and safe place for you to travel to. Do you want somewhere close to home or your workplace? Perhaps you would prefer to access treatment from the comfort of your own home with online sessions? What day of the week and time can you commit to treatment, and does your chosen therapist offer appointments which fit with your schedule?
There may be an option for you to have an initial telephone consultation or appointment with a therapist to get a feel for if they are the right person for you to work with. Don’t be afraid to ask them questions and tell them if there are things you are concerned about.
Notice how you feel with a therapist. Do you feel safe? Do you feel like they understand you? Do you feel confident in their abilities? Do they act in a professional manner?
Remember, it’s not your fault if it doesn’t work out with the first therapist you meet – try again with someone else.
- Are they accredited with BABCP or BACP?
- Does their training and experience match with your goals?
- How much do they charge?
- Where do they offer appointments?
- When do they offer appointments?
- How do you feel when you are interacting with them?