So many more people are now seeking therapy. Knowing where to start can be a massive hurdle that actually stops many people in their tracks. However, there are some easy rules that can be followed to support anyone starting out in their search for the therapist that is right for them.
There are so many different styles of therapy, locations (if you’re after face to face therapy), qualifications, and costs to consider. And absolutely, these are all important factors…. But research has shown that the one most important factor when considering working with a therapist is the relationship you build with your therapist. It has been shown to be key to the success of therapy, rather than the therapists experience, qualifications, or therapy style.
So my advice would be to consider the following points:
- Cultural background
You may feel more comfortable working with a man or a woman; you might want a young or older therapist that you feel will be able to relate to you and your situation; you may want to talk with a therapist that has the same sexuality, race or cultural background to you, or you may want to know what training and experience a therapist has in working with clients like you.
Location can be key, however with more therapists working online these days due to the COVID 19 pandemic, location does not need to be a problem. It’s therefore important to consider whether you want to be with your therapist working face to face, or whether working online suits your lifestyle.
In terms of qualifications, look for members of professional therapy associations. I’ve listed a few below:
- British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP)
- United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP)
- British Psychological Association (BPS)
- National Counselling Society (NCS)
- British Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapies (BABCP)
All of these professional associations have directories that you can use to find a therapist that meets all the important areas you’ve identified for you. Counselling Directory and Psychology Today are also directories you can use – they screen all listed therapists to ensure they have the appropriate qualifications and professional memberships.
The cost of seeing a therapist can vary dramatically depending on location, experience, and qualifications. You’re investing your own hard earned cash, as well as as your time so it’s important that the price you pay is right for you.
As a place to start, pick three or four therapists that meet your criteria, and arrange an initial session with each one. This could be face to face or over the phone. Take your questions and don’t be afraid to ask them! This is your opportunity to find out if you think this therapist is someone you can talk to openly in a safe and confidential environment. When I’m meeting clients for the first time, I find it really encouraging when they ask questions and want to figure out if they think I can meet their needs. In fact, I encourage it!