How to Choose a Private Counsellor / Psychotherapist
Many people at some point in their lives feel that a counsellor may be able to help them with emotional issues when they are feeling low, bereaved, having health problems or experiencing a difficult situation. But how do you know you are making the right choice when you are in a vulnerable state and looking for help?
Your GP can be a good starting point and there are many charities who can offer free counselling but sometimes the waiting list is long and you are usually allocated a counsellor when you may feel you would like to choose one. It can feel like a mine field when you start to look at the options available to you.
Do you choose person-centred, CBT or one of the many other therapeutic models?
Some counsellors may specialise in certain areas such as couple counselling, bereavement or abuse but all should provide you with a non-judgemental & empathic environment for you to explore your thoughts and feelings.
A few simple guidelines should prevent you from wasting too much time allowing you to get started with your recovery process. Whether you decide on a specialist or not, you should check with the prospective counsellor that they belong to a reputable professional body with a code of conduct and a complaints procedure such as the BACP (British Association for Counselling & Psychotherapy) or UKCP (United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy). This will give you confidence that your therapist is qualified and will adhere to their code of ethics.
Both qualifications and experience are important aspects to consider. However, it is equally important that the therapeutic relationship is right for you to move forward and find improvement in your life. You should feel comfortable enough to trust your therapist as you “open up” and disclose your feelings. If for any reason you don’t feel comfortable with your therapist, explain & try another one. It is important that you feel totally at ease during your counselling sessions.
For some people only a few sessions are needed but do be prepared that you may need longer than you originally thought to work through life’s difficulties.
Other things to be considered are:
Can the therapist see you at a time of day that suits you?
Do they have relevant insurance?
Is there a reduction for people with financial difficulties?
Would they agree to an initial free consultation?
What happens if you see your therapist while out socialising, would they be discreet ?
How long and how much is each session?
Remember you can change your therapist at any time. Counselling can be a wonderful experience although the process may be difficult at times, but with a good therapist supporting you through your journey to a happier life, it is well worth the rocky ride to get there.
Useful contact details:
BACP (British Association for Counselling & Psychotherapy) – www.bacp.co.uk
T: 020 8519 2122, F: 020 8522 1725
T: 029 2039 5123
by Kaye Townsend