Finding the ‘right’ counsellor for you
Good relationships are jigsaw puzzles that hang together by touching on just enough points
Once you have made the choice to seek counselling sourcing a therapist can present its own challenging issues; ‘Where do you start? / There are hundreds of therapists out there…’
Personal recommendation is a good place to start, but if you do not know or want to ask someone here are my four top tips for finding a therapist.
- Member of a professional Body
- Trust your intuition
- Don’t be afraid to meet more than one therapist
- Collaborative relationship
All reputable counsellors and therapists will be a member of a professional body, such as the BACP or UKCP (others listed below)
Whilst counsellors and psychotherapists are under no legal obligation to become a member of a professional body, belonging to a professional body indicates that a counsellor/psychotherapist has met the organisation’s criteria in terms of training and clinical hours, and also means that they have pledged to abide by the organisation’s code of ethics/conduct and complaints procedure.
- BACP Accredited counsellor.
- UKRC Registered Independent Counsellor.
- Individual Member of BACP who has completed their core training as a counsellor, or Registered Associate.
- UKCP National Register of Psychotherapists.
- BPC British Psychoanalytic Council.
- Chartered Counselling Psychologist/Chartered Psychologist with counselling training.
- COSCA Accredited Counsellor.
- IACP Accredited Counsellor.
- UKAHPP Accredited Counsellor.
- FDAP Accredited Counsellor.
- BPS British Psychological Society.
Membership of these professional bodies is essential, but not enough in itself. There also needs to be a right ‘fit’ with the therapist, as studies have shown the therapeutic relationship is considered to be the most significant factor in achieving positive therapeutic change.
In 2001, a comprehensive research summary published in the journal Psychotherapy found that a strong therapeutic alliance was more closely correlated with positive client outcomes than any specific treatment interventions.
Yes, the type / model of theory of practice of the therapist is important, for example CBT, Person-Centred etc, however as mentioned above it is the relationship between you and your counsellor that is paramount. It makes sense; if I did not feel warmth, supported and safe in the company of someone I would not want to share / explore my thoughts, feelings and beliefs.
Counselling should provide the client with an open and safe setting that emphasizes self-exploration and change without the client feeling the need to censor or conform.
Have you ever experienced being in a group for people and being drawn to one person in particular, with no necessary rhyme or reason, you just click? In my opinion your ‘gut instinct’ can be a good indicator.
There are many counselling directories where therapists have profiles and links to their website, often with a photo. When looking at these be aware of what you think and feel. Do they come across to you as friendly and warm? Do they look professional? Do they seem like someone you could talk to about sensitive things? ‘A picture can paint a thousand words….’
If you feel drawn to more than one counsellor it would be perfectly fine to meet or communicate with more than one before you decide. However, to meet them in person maybe expensive so ask if you can have a chat over the phone first to gain a sense of them. Many therapists now offer reduced price initial consultations or free phone consultations.
And lastly, the relationship between counsellor and client is a collaborative one. Effective counselling is a two way street. It takes time, energy and effort by both the person receiving counselling and the therapist.
(Please note, the words ‘therapist’ and ‘counsellor’ are used interchangeably).