In the last blog post, we looked at how to find the therapist that is best suited to you and your needs based on his or her professional credentials. Now we will turn to other important factors which will help you to find the right therapist for you.
In terms of successful therapeutic outcome, research emphasises the importance of the relationship between therapist and client, regardless of the approach (see below) that is used. It makes perfect sense that if you are to try new things in your life, share your inner-most thoughts, and reflect critically on how you are in the world, you will feel most encouraged to do so with a therapist you trust, who you feel understands you. In other words, it’s crucial to find a therapist that you feel you can bond with and work with.
Firstly, take a look at therapist websites, read testimonials, and learn about the therapist’s view of therapy and the difficulties people face. Perhaps talk to others about therapists they recommend. Then, when you think you’ve found some suitable candidates, give each of them a call and have a chat. Note which ones sound like someone you could open up to.
After making a preliminary decision, you may need a session or two to determine whether you’ve chosen the right therapist for you. If you are unsure, talk to the therapist about your concerns. If you’re still unsure, consider meeting with other therapists before making your choice. Remember, while the therapist does not need to be the kind of person you would want as a friend, you should feel that you will be able to form a good working relationship with him or her over time.
There are many therapeutic approaches, such as psychodynamic, systemic, person-centred, integrative, hypnotherapy, and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). Each has its own unique view on how to conceptualise and address people’s problems. For example, some generally anticipate that the therapeutic work will take a relatively long time and perhaps require a substantial exploration of childhood issues, while others work in a short-term, goal-oriented way to solve specific issues. Different approaches emphasise differing amounts of input from the client and the therapist, with some therapists remaining largely silent throughout and others involved in a much more discursive manner. Some therapists stick rigidly to a “purist” form of therapy, whilst others work in a pragmatic way, perhaps integrating different therapeutic approaches to address varying client needs.
Whilst each approach may emphasise certain ways of looking at and dealing with difficulties, each therapist’s personality and outlook has a significant impact on how that person “does therapy,” and ultimately on how the client experiences the process. Therefore, while it can be useful to have an overview of the different types of approaches (for example, click here), it is at least equally as important to talk to individual therapists and get a feel for how each person’s therapeutic approach might work for you.
Personal attributes and characteristics
Both you and your therapist have attributes and characteristics such as gender, age, race, religious beliefs, culture, sexuality, class, and educational background. Some therapist attributes and characteristics may be a “deal-breaker” for some clients. For example, some men may only wish to work with a male therapist, women with a female therapist, or vice versa. Some clients may wish to work with a therapist of the same religion because they feel their difficulties will be better understood by someone with similar religious beliefs. Conversely, a client from a relatively small local ethnic community might not want to work with someone from the same background for fear of details of their conversations getting back to other community members, or for fear of being judged in a certain way.
These are obviously important considerations, but it can sometimes be useful to think “outside the box.” For example, a man may believe that all his relationships with women have been “toxic” in some way, and therefore might gravitate towards a male therapist. However, he may do well to consider instead working with a female therapist, as his established view of relationships with women might be challenged by the therapeutic relationship itself.
The cost of therapy is an important factor in choosing a counsellor, psychotherapist, or hypnotherapist, as you will want to ensure that the work you are doing is not cut short due to financial unsustainability. Private practice fees vary greatly due to the therapist’s experience, approach, and location. If standard fees are too expensive, look for therapists who offer reduced rates based on ability to pay, or consider counselling organisations which offer no fee, low fee, or variable fee alternatives, such as MIND (for psychological and emotional difficulties) or Relate (for relationship difficulties).
Private practitioners usually ask their clients to pay at each session, often by cash or cheque, although some take credit and debit card payments. If you have private healthcare insurance, you can check your policy to see if there is provision for psychological support. Alternatively, see what your employer has to offer – many employees of larger organisations are part of an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP), which will allow them access to a limited number of free therapy sessions.
It is likely that you will be attending sessions for a while, so it’s important that the location of the therapy practice is convenient enough to travel to on a regular basis, and that you are comfortable with the way it is set up. Is it accessible by public transport? Is there adequate car parking? Are session times convenient and flexible? For example, if you travel a lot, would it be possible to have telephone or Skype sessions? If necessary, are home visits available? Is there a waiting area if you are early? Is there disabled access? Are there bathroom facilities? How discreet are the entrance and exit? If the therapy room is in the therapist’s house, how does the therapist ensure that there are no interruptions? Conversely, if the therapist offers home visits, how do you ensure that the sessions are not interrupted by members of your own household, and what precautions do you take to ensure that your private conversation is not overheard?
There are many factors to consider, but it is well worth investing some time and effort in carefully selecting a counsellor, psychotherapist, or hypnotherapist, as this will greatly improve your chances of a successful therapeutic outcome.
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.