I need a therapist – where do I start?
Once you’ve made the decision to find somebody to help you (and that’s the hardest bit over, by the way), how do you go about finding the right therapist? There are hundreds of different types of therapy from talking therapies (of which there are hundreds of genres alone), spiritual therapies, group or one-to-one sessions, right through to psychiatric/medicinal help. Minefield, right?
Well it needn’t be difficult. Firstly, if you’re not going by recommendation, then I suggest you take a look at as many different web sites as you can. Websites are the equivalent of a shop window. Is it easy to navigate? Can you find the information you’re looking for? Does it feel as though their website is talking to YOU? You’ll get a feel for the person, their methods, what they specialise in (if anything) and should give you a glimpse into their personality and give you an idea of whether or not you’d feel comfortable working with them. If not, move on.
Once you’ve narrowed your search down to 2 or 3 that you feel you might like to explore further, get in touch with them. How quickly do they respond to you? Are they willing to spend some time on the phone with you, initially, to answer any questions you may have? When you speak to them, do they sound friendly? Approachable?
So, once you’ve got that far, you might like to have a few questions prepared. Do they answer your questions honestly and make you feel heard and understood? Do they sound like the sort of person you’d like to share your innermost thoughts with, and feel safe to do so?
Here is a list of questions you might like to ask. Some will be relevant to you, others not so much. Pick the ones you feel are the most important to you, and have them in front of you to tick off as you go along. If you feel hurried, or the therapist sounds frustrated or bored, again – move on! But please just use this as a spring-board for your own ideas. Remember, no question is a silly question, so ask away. And when you’re happy that you’ve made the right choice, go ahead and book an appointment with them. Start moving forward on your road to recovery.
NB – All of the questions I’ve suggested below have answers on my website. But I’m always extremely happy to save you the bother of finding them, and for you to pick up the phone and have a chat with me, regarding anything at all, at any time. x
Questions you might like to consider when choosing a therapist…
- Firstly, ask to see their insurance paperwork. Insurers won’t cover therapists unless they have had a substantial amount of training, in a classroom environment. A few hours on an internet web-based course won’t cut it! No proper training = no qualifications. No qualifications = no insurance. Without insurance, don’t touch them with a barge pole. Move on…
- How many governing bodies do they belong to? Professional organisations only allow suitably qualified (and insured) therapists to join. You can check out their membership credentials on the various websites that should be clearly signposted from their websites.
- You might be interested in where they studied, what disciplines they mastered in, and how long they’ve been qualified. This will give you an idea of their approach to therapy, and amount of experience they have.
- What sort of therapy do they offer? If you don’t understand what they tell you – ask for an explanation of what it is, and how it could help you.
- Do they have a specialism in which they excel/enjoy working in most – eg, anxiety, phobias, relationships? Does it fit with your needs?
- How long are their sessions? Are they rigid or flexible on this?
- Do they offer ‘out of session’ or ‘out of hours’ support? Will they mind if you contact them between sessions?
- How much experience do they have of helping people with your issue?
- Do they have testimonials on their website? Do they look real? Valid? Do they ring a bell with you? Can you relate to past clients’ issues?
- Is there a waiting list for session dates? (If not, why not? A good therapist is generally booked up for weeks in advance.)
- What is their confidentiality policy, and what do they have in place to comply, legally, with GDPR? Is it laid out clearly on their website, and kept up to date?
- Likewise, what safety measures do they have in place for Covid-19? Do they have a clear safety plan for you to read and for everybody to adhere to, on their website? (Again, a legal requirement.)
- What will it be like to have therapy? What will happen in the sessions? What will you have to do? What happens if you’re not comfortable with what’s going on?
- How many sessions does the therapist think you’ll need?
- What happens if the therapist doesn’t think he/she can help you? Will they signpost you to somewhere more appropriate for you?
So these are just a few ideas of where to start with questions to consider when looking for the right therapist for YOU. Any therapist worth their salt will be happy to answer any queries you have, or address any concerns that are bothering you before asking you to commit your time and money to seeing them.