How to find the right therapist

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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:

  1. Gender
  2. Age
  3. Sexuality
  4. Race
  5. 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:

  1. British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP)
  2. United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP)
  3. British Psychological Association (BPS)
  4. National Counselling Society (NCS)
  5. 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!

Therapy is for everyone

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Therapy goes far beyond the treatment of psychological symptoms.  It can take us to a place of fulfillment.  Most of what goes on inside of us goes on without our conscious awareness of it. We follow whatever patterns of thought, feeling, and action were conditioned in our early development…… without question. We live our lives according to such patterns, missing the potential for new ways of being and knowing ourselves (and others). This is true for most of us, not just people exhibiting obvious psychological symptoms.

Therapy can develop our inner resources and insight to gain awareness, and this can lead to a real maturity.  When we start making our unconscious patterns conscious, we can begin to tease apart what is conditioned in us (from parents and others) and present with what is more authentic.  By honestly looking at how we function in the world, we can begin to see the many places in our lives incongruence shows up. So that would mean that we may think and/or feel one thing, but our actions don’t reflect that.  A therapist and the desire to know ourselves helps bring closer together our feelings, thoughts, and actions.  Therefore, reducing the incongruence that affects our authenticity.

Want to know more….? Then take a look at this article and get in touch to talk more about how therapy could support you and your relationships.

How to grieve

Grieving

When we think about grief we think about someone close no longer being with us.  And that’s obviously when many of us have experienced grief ourselves.  However, grief can be so much more…. a grief reaction can be experienced when we are made redundant, a re-organisation at work, financial changes, when our children are born, and when our children leave home.  All of these life changes mean that our lives are never the same again – we look to adapt and find a ‘new normal’.  We have lost something important and we are learning to adapt and live without it.  That can come with overwhelm and feelings that we might be ashamed of.

When we grieve and how we grieve are specific to us.  No one will experience grief in the same way.  Yes, there will be similarities…. but our own individual circumstances will affect the grieving process. In therapy, this is accounted for to ensure your specific needs are met.  Therapy provides a space for you to express your feelings without judgement that this ‘should’ be done in a certain way.

Self-care is always important (in my mind)! And when we are grieving I believe this is essential.  Self-care can come in all shapes and sizes, and again what supports you may be different to others.  And that is OK…. Self-care could be physical to help with aches, sleep issues, or changes in appetite; cognitive to help with concentration; emotional to help with numbness or overwhelm; spiritual to help with faith or worries around life and death; and social to help loneliness and relationships.

I think the main thing I’d want you to take away from reading this is that there is no shame in seeking help and support for yourself or for/with someone else.  In fact, I would go as far as to say you are incredibly brave.

If you’d like to read some more then take a look at this article, and get in touch to talk through how I can support you or help you find the support you need.

Don’t ask me about my feelings…!

feelings

For many of the people I work with, it can be extremely difficult for them to find a language that explains their feelings.  They my be intense, overwhelming, always present, intrusive, and unwelcome.  Sometimes, all of that can make us ‘feel’ numb.

We can all learn our own language to understand our feelings.  Children tend to be pretty good at this – using colours, Lego characters, football stadiums, and even food.  It’s a language they already understand and that can help break through the sense of being ‘out of control’.

A therapist can sometimes seem to be overly interested in your feelings.  But there’s a reason for that! It can lead to breakthroughs regarding unhelpful patterns, difficult feelings, and negative interpersonal relationships. It can reconnect you with any feelings you may be trying to avoid by overthinking the situation.

Take a look at this article that talks about this in a little more detail.

If there’s one thing I’d like you to take from this post…. it would be that knowing your feelings gives them less control over you.

Our Inner Critic

quiet

As a child we develop many ways to protect ourselves.  As we grow into adulthood, some of these strategies can begin to impact us in a way that disrupts how we would like to be in the world.  All of this usually happens out of our awareness, and therefore it can be difficult to understand what is going on.

Signs that may mean this is impacting you include:

  • struggling to make sense of normality
  • difficulty managing your emotions or feeling emotionally numb
  • unpredictable anxiety
  • feeling empty, lost and alone
  • unable to remember periods of time, or gaps in your memory

This certainly is not an extensive list, but it is the more common things that I hear from the people that come to see me for therapy.

The inner critic is the voice inside of ourselves that keeps us from living the life we wish for ourselves.  Recognising, rejecting and affirming are three steps to help you understand your inner critic.  This then enables us to live differently.

Therapy is a support that can provide the space and a safe, confidential environment for you to do this.  Take a look at this article to get more information on strategies to support yourself…… and start to quieten down your inner critic.

Therapy – something to be proud of or ashamed of?

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I am a therapist, but I also go to therapy myself.  It’s important for my professional development, but that’s not the main reason I go.  It’s because my mental health is as important as my physical health.  I do kick boxing, yoga, mindfulness and therapy.  And each one of those benefits me, both physically and mentally.  This positively impacts my relationships, my time for others, my patience, my self-esteem, my confidence… and so much more.

Many people at some point in their life will experience difficulties in relation to their mental health.  And you are not alone in your struggles, or in overcoming them.  Recognising the stigma associated with mental health and therapy is an important stage in accessing psychotherapy or counselling and getting the support you deserve.

This article talks about some of the stigma associated with therapy.  It’s a great read and a perfect place to start if you are thinking that therapy could help support you or someone you know.  Get in contact of you’d like to chat further.  There is no commitment needed in finding out what’s right for you.  And I will be happy to help support you in whatever way you need.

And by the way, therapy is definitely something to be proud of!  I say that as a therapist and importantly as a person that goes to therapy.

 

Too busy to be mindful?

mindfulness

Life gets very busy for all of us and we can easily forget about ourselves.  I love mindfulness, but do I do it as often as I’d like too?  Nope!! So therefore, is it really that important to me? And this is where things get complicated. Because it is important to me and I know it can really support me. My own past experiences tell me this.  So how do I get myself to find the time to do the things that are important FOR ME?

This article has some great tips. And essentially it’s about using your current routines to incorporate mindfulness.  Now it doesn’t have to be mindfulness. That’s not necessarily for everyone. But I honestly believe that selfcare is for everyone.  In whatever shape that takes to suit you, your needs, and your busy schedule.

I think this article is a great reminder that selfcare (in whatever form) is meant to relieve pressures…. not increase them.  And by taking small but significant steps to incorporate a few mindful moments into our day, then it can gives us pleasure – not pain!

Take a look at this 30 day mindful calendar and commit to it.  By the end of 30 days these little (but significant) mindful moments will be habits. And we all know habits are hard to break!

Just Be You

justbeyou

I use the logo “just be you”.  But what does that actually mean? Simply, I would say it’s self compassion, self awareness, embracing the ‘good’ and ‘not so good’ bits of ourselves, trusting yourself, loving yourself, and (last but not least) asking for what you need.  Easier said than done! And I’m not going to lie….. it isn’t always easy, and there is only one person that can do it. Yep, that’s right…. YOU!!

 

If you break it down it becomes so much more manageable.  And I truly believe that a therapeutic relationship can support you and the process.  I say that from my own personal experience – from both sides of the therapy room.

  • Working out what your needs are
  • Being authentic (with yourself and others)
  • Forgive yourself (in other words, show yourself the compassion you show others)
  • Celebrate every bit of you…. including all your quirks.  They’re the interesting bits!

All of this can come with an awkward feeling of being selfish.  We tend to put others needs before our own.  And of course, sometimes we may feel we need to do that.  But doing it with awareness can make a big difference.  I want to stress that putting your needs before those around you is not selfish.  It will have a positive impact on your relationships (amongst other things), and therefore giving those around you a very special experience.  What is selfish about that?!

Have a read of this article to find out more about the four areas above.  And get in contact if you’d like to know more about how this could help you feel more complete and less stuck, no matter what area of your life is causing you difficulties.

A Therapeutic Relationship

think differently

“How on earth can talking help?” Sound familiar…?!?!

But it’s not just talking…. there is far more to a therapeutic relationship in my opinion.  Take a look at this article to find out more.

People who have experienced painful relationships growing up have been trained to expect similar experiences now.  And that makes perfect sense.

It takes a new type of relationship to let yourself experience ‘you’ and others differently.  This can be difficult, as it’s not always apparent that the relationships you had with your parents, siblings and others are actually impacting how you relate to yourselves and to others today.  And you don’t need to know this to enter into therapy.   A sense of feeling stuck, alone, separate, misunderstood, not connected, unsatisfied or frustrated are all reasons that people look to therapy.

A therapeutic relationship provides a safe environment to start exploring this.  Emotions and thoughts that were once ‘not allowed’ can be felt and expressed.  Unconscious emotional suppression because of your early experiences stops you from doing this (maybe due to shame, guilt, fear) and can subsequently impact relationships with your friends, partner, children, parents and others in your life.

Therapy provides a unique opportunity due to the way the therapist responds to you – in ways that are different to those you experienced when you were younger.  This new experience helps you understand, acknowledge and accept your own needs.  It can help reduce the feelings of stuckness – and the sense of feeling alone, separate, misunderstood, not connected, unsatisfied or frustrated; empowering you to have greater autonomy in your relationships.

 

Feeling guilty?

Its your life. Dont let anyone make you feel guilty for living it your way.justbeyou

Sometimes we say “yes” to someone when we really want to say “no”….. We put our own needs behind the needs of others, whether that’s our children, partner, friends, colleagues, and sometimes even strangers.  Putting ourselves first leads to feelings of guilt.  But why…??? Of course, we all have to do things that sometimes we don’t really want to.  But this is more about ALWAYS seeing the needs of others as more important than our own.

Self care and self compassion are a couple of ways that can help tackle guilt head-on!  A need to be perfect, to please others, and a sense of obligation all mean we dismiss self care and self compassion.  Bringing these elements back into your own life is essential, because you are important too.  Kindness, compassion, loyalty and patience are qualities that make us a great friend, partner and parent.  These great qualities can be self directed too! I believe it’s essential.  How we do this isn’t always easy…. therapy or counselling can help.

This article starts to address this and how we might go about showing ourselves the same love and attention we show those around us.  There’s no better way for people in our lives to learn and experience us fully than by watching how we care for ourselves.

Take a look at ‘The Compassionate Mind’ by Paul Gilbert…. it’s a great read and you’ll learn loads! Get in touch if you’d like to know more.  It’s never too late to start caring for yourself in the same way you care for people around you….. and not feel guilty!