How to Choose a Therapist

Mental health awareness is growing.  Schools are talking about it, the media are talking about it, even William and Kate are talking about it.  However, taking the leap from talking about mental health issues to actually seeking help, can feel like a huge step.

How do I know I need to see a therapist?

There are some situations where it feels obvious that therapy is needed.  Serious illness, a traumatic event or an abusive relationship.  And yet sometimes, we are not sure whether the bad feeling we are experiencing is just part and parcel of being human.

3 signs you know it’s more than a bad day

  1. Your excessive worry or low mood feels constant – like you can’t shake it off no matter what you do.
  2. You feel stuck. You’ve tried all your best efforts but can’t seem to get out of the hole.
  3. Your thoughts, feelings and behaviors have become harmful (to self or others).

Where do I start?

A great place to start your research is The Counselling Directory – an online directory of professional counsellors and therapists who have had their credentials checked prior to going on the site.  Make a shortlist of your preferred therapists and schedule trial sessions with them.

The first meeting

One of the pitfalls people make when first meeting a therapist is trying to get them to ‘like’ or ‘accept’ you.  Don’t be afraid to interview your therapist – in fact a good therapist will encourage you to be curious and ask lots of questions.  You might ask your therapist about their training, supervision and confidentiality practices.  Or you might be interested to know more about their style of working.  Go with your instinct and don’t be afraid to decline an invitation to work with a therapist.  Research shows that the best predictor for a positive outcome in therapy, is the quality of the relationship.

Know where you are heading

There is no route-map for therapy, and at the same time you need to know what you are aiming for.  Good therapists will work with their clients to fulfil therapeutic goals, gently guiding the client towards autonomy.

If the thought of therapy is still scary, know that your therapist has sat in the client chair (as part of their training) and also been terrified at times.  In reality, often the hardest part is to show up!