Perhaps this a controversial statement? However, when you’re going to be committing money, time and energy to therapy, it’s certainly something that you need to consider when you’re choosing your therapist. It’s one of the four areas that you should have considered when selecting your counsellor or psychotherapist. The other three are below…
1. The Therapist’s Own Therapy
When you go to see a therapist, either counsellor or psychotherapist, they all have a sophisticated tool at their disposal that they have invested in – themselves. Whilst much can be learnt through academic study, that really is only part of the story. The primary instrument that the therapist uses is their own personality. Ideally, to help others therapists must have done their own work through their own therapy. Their own therapy will have allowed them to grow, releasing them to develop growth in others. Ask them about their own experiences of therapy. It’s not that it’s impossible to work with others without having looked at your own issues, its just that it makes you more potent if you have done. Make sure that your therapist has worked on their own stuff before they work on yours.
2. Post Graduate Training
Academic credentials are worth considering: both universities and specialist psychotherapy training institutions offer post graduate training above degree level (e.g. a Masters qualification (MSc or MA)) and this can be one indication of deeper study or knowledge. Whilst all Counsellors and Therapists are required to demonstrate on-going professional development as part of their registration, the best therapists tend to be devoted to lifelong learning. In this case more is nearly always better.
3. Professional Body Accreditation
Although this may change in the future, surprisingly, unlike other medical professions, there is no overall government regulating body for Psychotherapy and Counselling who are instead currently regulated by their professional bodies. The two most important bodies are the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) and the United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP).
Both bodies regulate their members and have codes of ethics and practice which are regarded as essential guidelines for responsible practitioners.
4. Your Fit with the Counsellor or Psychotherapist
One of the successful markers of effective therapy – therapy that helps you to achieve your goals- is where there is a strong feeling of rapport between client and therapist. The relationship which develops is very important. How do you work this out then? 4 markers are:
- Do you feel comfortable with the therapist?
- Does he or she listen carefully?
- Do you feel that you are able to trust them?
- What is the overall feeling you had about the therapist?
In summary, the 4 tips to a good Psychotherapist or Counsellor are: Qualifications, training and experience, Professional Registration, Personal Therapy, and Client “Fit”. With these in mind you will have a good sense of whether the therapist is right for you.