Perhaps you have been thinking about seeing a counsellor or psychotherapist for some time now. Or maybe, the thought is more recent.
Whatever the case, how do you go about finding one?
Secondly, with such a large number to choose from, how do you decide, which one is best for you?
Hopefully, you will find the following tips useful:
Finding a counsellor
There are quite a few ways to go about finding a private counsellor.
You might ask your GP for a recommendation of any good therapists they are aware of. Many doctors will only recommend counsellors they know of personally. So this can be reassuring.
You might also consider asking other healthcare professionals or local clergy.
Another way in which people find a counsellor is to ask friends and family. While most people who have attended counselling prefer to keep it private, it’s worth a try.
But keep in mind that because your best friend had a good experience with a particular therapist, there is no guarantee that you will too. It’s all about the chemistry between counsellor and client.
Online directories are another worthwhile place to look. Many of the main professional counselling and therapy bodies maintain their own directories such as the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) and the United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP).
Apart from these, they are quite a few other online directories such as the Counselling Directory, for example.
Lastly, many therapists have their own websites. Just do a search on Google, Bing or Yahoo and you will be presented with a plethora of them.
But your work is not done yet! Now that you have located details of local counsellors, how to you choose between them.
How to choose the best counsellor for you
There are certain fundamental issues, which you must check out before agreeing to work with a therapist.
For a start, are they properly trained and qualified? The reason this must be verified is that anyone in the UK can call himself or herself a counsellor or psychotherapist, without having attended any training, whatsoever.
However, it is also worth noting that the level and number of qualifications a counsellor has, is no guarantee, that they are an effective practitioner. Nor does it mean that they are the right person for you.
So don’t be dazzled by a long string of letters after a person’s name.
Secondly, is your prospective counsellor registered with, or accredited by, a professional body such as the BACP or UKCP? Knowing this gives you the assurance that they have been deemed eligible to join that body and that they have agreed to adhere to it’s ethical code of practice.
How much post-qualifying experience does your prospective counsellor have?
Interestingly, I remember reading somewhere that newly qualified counsellors can be just as effective as ones who have been practising for a long time.
So length of experience is not necessarily an indication of how good a counsellor is. Though it probably does count for a lot.
Also, does your counsellor have experience of working with similar issues to the ones you are experiencing?
Personally, I find myself wary of therapists who state either on their websites or their online directory profiles, that they can help clients with every issue known to man!
Counsellors should not work out with their areas of expertise.
You might also want to check whether your potential therapist attends regular clinical supervision, with a more senior and experienced colleague. This can act as a safeguard to clients.
Other factors to consider
Apart from the above, you might want to give some thought as to what your preferences are, with regard to the following:
Do you prefer to work with a male or female therapist? Or does it not really matter to you?
Do you prefer a younger or older therapist, or someone who is a similar age to you?
How far are you prepared to travel to sessions?
Would you prefer to work by phone or online, as opposed to working face-to-face?
Is it important that your counsellor shares the same religion, ethnicity, culture, or sexual orientation as you?
Do you want to be seen right away or are you willing to wait, if the therapist does not have any spaces just now?
How often do you want to attend therapy? Most therapists see their clients once a week or every two weeks.
Do you need flexibility in terms of the times of your appointments? Or do you want to be seen at the same time each week?
Do you want to work on current issues or explore yourself at a deeper level? Or maybe you are looking for a counsellor who will offer you the chance to do both?
No doubt, you will have gathered by now, that there is quite a lot to consider before agreeing to work with a therapist!
It is really important that you put effort into choosing the best person for you to work with.
You will be investing time, money and effort in this.
But more importantly, you will be giving the therapist you choose, privileged entry into your private world. So treat it seriously.
It’s very important to make as conscious and as wise a choice as possible.
Good luck with what could be a life changing experience.
Neil Ward works as a private counsellor in Glasgow City Centre. He offers counselling services to individuals and couples. In addition to relationship issues, he also offers counselling for anxiety, depression, anger management and bereavement. More information about his services can be found at www.neilwardcounselling.co.uk or you can call him on 07970 860 711