Guide to Choosing Your Therapist

Making the decision to step out of your comfort zone and see a therapist can feel like a huge challenge in itself, and finding the right therapist for you should not be yet another challenge to overcome. With that in mind, we’ve broken down the process of choosing a trustworthy and accredited therapist.

The Accredited Register

The first step is to search the NCS accredited register for someone local enough for you to comfortably travel to. This register is also a useful tool if you have a therapist recommendation and want to ensure that they are an accredited member of the National Counselling Society. There are four levels of registrants, based on experience and qualifications, so you can feel confident in your choice of therapist. If you would like to know more about each level, further details can be found on the National Counselling Society website. There are several other Member Registers in the UK, so if you have a specific counsellor in mind and can’t find them on the NCS register, it is possible that they are accredited but on a different register. The Accredited Register is vital as it proves they have the correct training and experience and provides a complaints procedure in the event of any problems.

A Local Search

Your initial search will show you all the accredited counsellors in your local area, detailing their location, member status and an overview of their profile. When you click through to their profile you are given full contact information and in depth details about who they work with, what they can help with, prices and further details about them and their experience. This is a starting point to get an sense of who might be a good option for you personally. It is a good idea to make a shortlist of the counsellors to begin with, as depending on your location, you may be given a large amount of options to choose from. Some will be more relevant than others, depending on the type of therapy you are looking for.

Types of Therapy

If you are new to therapy and are unsure which type will be the most helpful to you,

look through the list of therapies available and again, shortlist the ones that appeal to you the most. You can talk these through with the therapist to decide on the right path for you. The relationship between therapist and client can often be more important than the style of therapy itself, as it is only when you feel safe, respected and feel that connection that you can truly relax and make the most of the therapy. But of course, best results come from a combination of the right therapist and the right therapy. In your first session you will be able to discuss what you think will help you the most and, together with your counsellor’s advice, you can choose a plan that you are comfortable with. Most counsellors offer a range of therapies, so if a few sessions down the line you realise it is not working for you, you may be able to change to a more beneficial therapy.

Contacting Therapists

Once you have a shortlist of therapists and an idea of the type of therapy you are interested in you can start contacting them. Be prepared with a list of questions to ensure that you get all the information you need to allow you to make an informed decision. Discuss how often you will need to go, how long each session is, making note of specific times and the availability of sessions, and how easy it is to get there. If you don’t drive and transport is an issue this can become more of a problem over time, making you reluctant to go at all. It is also important to discuss when the therapy will be over and how this will be decided.  Some therapies, such as CBT, are often made up of six to eight sessions, whereas others are more flexible based on your changing needs. This should be made clear to you before you start so that you can budget accordingly. Payment terms should be made clear before you start, including cancellations (from either you or the therapist). In some cases, the counselling will be paid for by the NHS, but you will need to be referred by your GP and there can be a waiting list. Alternatively, there are many charities that offer free counselling and your GP should be able to give you some recommendations. If you are worried about starting therapy, ask the therapist about their Code of Ethics so that you can start on an open and respectful footing.

Finding the Right Therapist for You

It is one thing finding someone local and affordable, but you also need a therapist that will make you feel at ease and connect with you in a way that is beneficial to you as an individual. In your first session you will be able to get an idea if the connection between you is right. Try to be open and honest when you speak to your therapist as this will strengthen the connection between you and allow them to help you. If you do not feel comfortable with your therapist, for any reason and at any point in your therapy, you are not obliged to stay and it will not benefit either of you if you do stay. Sometimes the therapist could be amazing, but it is just not a good fit for you personally. Although it can be uncomfortable, try to be honest about it as this discussion will help both of you as you move on to the next counsellor.

If you or someone you know is considering therapy or looking for a counsellor, please get in touch on 01903 200666 or visit the National Counselling Society.