So you’ve made the decision that you need some extra help in coping with some life difficulties. Recognising when you need additional help and support from a counsellor is an empowering and courageous choice. When you seek your own private therapist it gives you the flexibility of finding somebody who you can trust, as well as meeting some of the practicalities you require. Some practitioners choose to work from counselling rooms within a trusted location such as a counselling centre, a GP centre, complimentary health centre or a therapeutic space in the counsellors’ home.
As long as the environment is conducive to a therapeutic setting i.e. a quiet confidential space, comfortable chairs then you are in the right environment to work through your difficulties. It can be daunting going through Google searches and seeing endless lists of counsellors within your area. Perhaps you’ve even looked at several websites and you have become even more confused about what to look for. The below tips are designed to aid the process of finding a suitable counsellor and psychotherapist. The right therapist for you is out there you might just have to do a little research first.
1. Qualifications It is essential for your therapist to have had the appropriate training and experience. A number of leading accrediting counselling and psychotherapy bodies offer assurance of relevant training and ethical practice. By doing a simple search you can verify the credentials of your therapist. For example, see the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy register (BACP), Psychology Today, National Counselling Society (NCS) or the Counselling Directory for listings of approved counsellors and psychotherapists.
2. Making Contact
While qualifications are important, qualifications alone do not indicate whether a particular therapist is the right person for you. Many counsellors now have websites or other social media pages, which offer further information on what they are able to offer and how they work. It can also give you an indication of their personality and any areas of expertise they might specialise in. Having a conversation over the phone or meeting in person can offer you some insight into whether you have found the right therapist for you. Remember: trust your instincts and go with your gut.
3. Shop around
You might not get the right fit the first time but that doesn’t mean you should give up or feel stuck with the same therapist. It’s perfectly okay for you to look for somebody who you feel comfortable and safe to work with. When and how long you see your therapist for is your choice. They may make a recommendation, but ultimately the decision is yours.
If you dread long journeys then it will make the most sense to choose a therapist where there are easy transportation links and the distance is not too far away from home or work. There may be pros and cons when it comes to deciding a location for therapy. For example, is it a major issue for you if you “bumped” into your therapist at the supermarket or when you’re out and about having a coffee. While therapists’ are ethically bound to keep client details confidential it might be worth having a conversation about what to do should this situation arise, and to consider what you would be most comfortable with.
5. Choosing the type of therapy
There are a vast number of theoretical approaches in counselling and psychotherapy, some are more proactive than others. Ultimately how comfortable you feel with your therapist and the therapeutic relationship is likely to have more impact than the theoretical approach they might use. You might have a particular idea about what type of therapy you think you should have, but don’t let this limit you from exploring further possibilities. Sometimes our preconceived notion of how things “should” be inhibits our full potential to grow.
Best of luck in your search, Lizandra
I’m Lizandra Leigertwood, a counsellor and psychotherapist in private practice in St Albans, Hertfordshire. I work face to face and online to help people to feel better about themselves, and live happier and fulfilling lives. Get in touch to arrange your free telephone consultation today or to book an appointment with me.
To view some of my counselling and psychotherapy listings you can click the links below: