As a qualified psychotherapist & Agony Aunt for The Bucks Free Press, I had written this article a few years ago to help people find a suitable therapist, & feel it’s still relevant. More clients are finding that “Talking Therapies” are just as effective as medication & unlike anti-depressants, talking can solve mental issues rather than just cover it up. If you or someone you know is having problems & willing to try out counselling, please read the following.
How to choose a private counsellor / psychotherapist
Many people at some point in their lives feel that a counsellor may be able to help them with emotional issues when they are feeling low, bereaved or experiencing a difficult situation. But how do you know you are making the right choice when you are in a vulnerable state and looking for help?
Your GP can be a good starting point and there are many charities who can offer free counselling but sometimes the waiting list is long and you are usually allocated a counsellor when you may feel you would like to choose one. It can feel like a mine field when you start to look at the options available to you. Do you choose person-centred, CBT or one of the many other therapeutic approaches.
Some counsellors may specialise in certain areas such as couple counselling, bereavement or abuse but all should provide you with a non-judgemental & empathic environment for you to explore your thoughts and feelings. A few simple guidelines should prevent you from wasting too much time allowing you to get started with your recovery process.
Whether you decide on a specialist or not, you should check with the prospective counsellor that they belong to a reputable professional body with a code of conduct and a complaints procedure such as the BACP (British Association for Counselling & Psychotherapy) or UKCP (United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy). This will give you confidence that your therapist is qualified and will adhere to their code of ethics.
Both qualifications and experience are important aspects to consider. However, it is equally important that the therapeutic relationship is right for you in order to move forward and find improvement in your life. You should feel comfortable enough to trust your therapist as you “open up” and disclose your feelings. For some people only a few sessions are needed but do be prepared that you may need longer than you originally thought to work through life’s difficulties.
Other things to be considered are:
- Do they have relevant insurance?
- Is there a reduction for people with financial difficulties?
- Would they agree to an initial free consultation?
- What happens if you see your therapist while out socialising, would they be discreet?
- Can the therapist see you at a time of day that suits you?
- How long and how much is each session?
Counselling can be a wonderful experience although the process may be difficult at times but with a good therapist supporting you through your journey to a happier life, it is well worth the rocky ride to get there.
by Kaye Townsend MBACP