In the last blog, we looked at circumstances in which you might consider seeking the help of a professional therapist. In this post and the next, we will examine how to find the therapist that is best suited to you and your needs.
A glossy, all-singing, all-dancing website, along with a fancy title such as “Clinical Director,” may look and sound impressive, but these actually say more about the therapist’s marketing skills than about his or her professional clinical abilities. It may surprise you to know that there is very little statutory regulation of the talking therapies in the UK, so it is vitally important for you to carefully check the credentials of the counsellor, psychotherapist, or hypnotherapist you would like to work with.
Training & Qualifications
A professional therapist will have undertaken substantial training including appropriate assessments in the form of examinations, coursework, and scrutiny of clinical skills, often through role-play or live or recorded therapy sessions. Courses accredited by professional bodies such as the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP), or by universities or colleges of higher education, will usually have met strict criteria for assessment. You may wish to ask the therapist how long he or she trained for and the relevance of his or her qualifications to the services offered. Please also see the membership, accreditation, and registration section below.
You should also find out a little about the therapist’s clinical experience. How many times has he or she worked with other people experiencing issues similar to yours, and how does the therapist rate his or her level of success? Where was this experience gained, and how broad has it been? Has the therapist worked within one or more talking therapy organisations, and has his or her work been overseen by qualified staff? What placements were part of the therapist’s training? Please also see the membership, accreditation, and registration section below.
Membership, Accreditation, and Registration with Professional Organisations
One way of assessing a therapist’s training and experience is through the professional organisations to which he or she belongs. BACP Accredited members, for example, have substantial qualifications and experience, hold appropriate professional indemnity insurance, keep their skills and knowledge up to date with regular Continued Professional Development (CPD), and attend regular clinical supervision. They also agree to adhere to a strict code of conduct. Here are some professional organisations, many of whom hold listings of suitable therapists:
- BABCP – British Association of Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapists (for CBT psychotherapists)
- BACP – British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (for counsellors and psychotherapists)
- BPC – British Psychoanalytical Council (for psychoanalytic psychotherapists)
- BPS – British Psychological Society (for psychologists)
- CNHC – Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council (for complementary therapists – the Department of Health suggests that medical professionals make referrals to hypnotherapists on this listing)
- COSRT – College of Sexual and Relationship Therapists (for psycho-sexual therapists)
- FDAP – Federation of Drug & Alcohol Practitioners (for practitioners in the substance use field)
- NCH – National Council for Hypnotherapy (for hypnotherapists)
- UKAHPP – United Kingdom Association of Humanistic Psychology Practitioners (for Humanistic counsellors, therapists, and practitioners)
- UKCP – United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy (for psychotherapists from a variety of approaches)
Appropriate Clinical Supervision
Professional therapists should undertake appropriate levels of clinical supervision. This helps the therapists to reflect on their work, keep their practices appropriate and safe, and improve their therapeutic skills. Supervision is usually undertaken individually with an appropriately qualified supervisor, or in a facilitated group. Both the BACP and BABCP require their accredited members to undertake a minimum of 1.5 hours of clinical supervision per month.
Commitment to Continued Professional Development (CPD)
Like all professions, the talking therapies are constantly innovating and improving their approaches to helping people. Professional therapists undertake regular CPD which may include attending workshops, courses or lectures, engaging in reading and research, or presenting ideas to colleagues or client groups. Again, professional bodies such as the BABCP make CPD a requirement of accreditation.
There are many factors to consider when ensuring the professionalism of a therapist, but it is well worth investing some time and effort. Carefully selecting a counsellor, psychotherapist, or hypnotherapist will greatly improve your chances of a successful therapeutic outcome. In the next blog we will look at other factors to consider when choosing a therapist.
If you are seeking compassionate, understanding therapy from a highly trained and qualified therapist in London, I invite you to contact Martin Cox at Achieving Balance today on 020 7096 8854 for a free, no-obligation 20 minute consultation. I tailor the therapy specifically to each client in an approach that provides great flexibility in frequency, session length, timing, duration, and even location. Let’s take the first step toward your emotional health and well-being together.