You’ve decided that you want to have therapy, but where do you go? You don’t want to feel like you’re wasting your money, and you certainly don’t want your mental health to be impacted in a way that is dangerous.
If you go to Google and search for ‘therapist’, ‘counsellor’ or ‘how to find a therapist’, you are likely to be faced with several different directories, or therapists that are local to you. It can feel overwhelming, and may very well put you off seeking therapy completely.
At the moment, in the UK, anyone can call themselves a therapist or counsellor, without having any qualifications, because the titles are not regulated. How do you know who to trust?
1. Look for an accredited register
This is by far the most important step. Accredited registers are a way of giving you some assurance that you are looking at a competent therapist, and know that there will be a code of ethics that they work within. The register is responsible for ensuring that the therapists meet their standards, which includes a minimum qualification. Their websites will be able to detail those standards to you. It also gives you a way to complain. they are voluntary, so this tells you that the therapist wants to work in an ethical and safe way.
Some of the registers are:
2. Think about your known needs
Start by thinking about what you know you need. If you prefer to speak to someone from the comfort of your own home, consider therapy via video or telephone call. If you prefer being in the same room as your therapist, you can look for face-to-face options. Are you restricted by your location and ability to travel to a therapist? If so, what distance is available to you? If you have financial difficulties, you can look at charities that are local to you that might be able to offer a set number of free, or reduced priced sessions. Some therapists will offer concessionary rates.
3. Use a directory
There are a number of directories now available that can help you sort through all the different therapists available. They will have verified the therapist, usually by qualification and what accredited register they are on. They give you the option to filter by location if you’re looking for face-to-face, price and a number of different things. Some directories offer the option to match you to a therapist based on a short questionnaire. They usually charge a fee on the booked sessions, however they can take the guess work out if you’re not keen on searching through profiles, and they often give you the ability to book online with your chosen therapists. (Note that some therapists will have their own booking systems too). Some of the directories are:
Counselling Directory https://www.counselling-directory.org.uk/
Psychology Today https://www.psychologytoday.com/gb
Pink Therapy https://pinktherapy.com/
Harley Therapy https://harleytherapy.com/
The accredited registers will usually have an option to search their members on too.
4. Be mindful of promises being made in advertising
On the accredited registers, there is usually something about advertising. As therapy requires work by the client, it can be difficult to ‘promise’ a cure or fix for something. Some therapies are called ‘evidence-based’, but even in those circumstances they cannot guarantee it will help you. What they can do is explain what the therapy is about, and how it can help with certain issues.
5. Read into the different types of therapy being offered
There are a large number of different therapies on offer, and that in itself can be overwhelming. You may be hearing of a particular therapy that is popular at the time, or that has been recommended to you by someone else. The BACP has an A-Z of the different types of therapy if you would like to know more about them: https://www.bacp.co.uk/about-therapy/types-of-therapy/
6. Try different therapists
An important aspect of therapy is the relationship that you build with your therapist. It’s called the ‘therapeutic alliance’. You need to be comfortable and safe with your therapist to be able to open up. If you don’t feel that, it’s ok to try a different therapist. It’s worth noting, that whilst it can feel good to get along with your therapist, there might be times when you need to be challenged in some way. It can be in those times that you make the biggest changes. That’s why feeling safe, and that you can trust your therapist, can be so important. So you can work through those challenges in a positive way.