Choosing The Right Therapist

Help with Choosing the Right Therapist

Making a decision to go to therapy, especially if it is for the first time, can seem like taking a very big leap into the unknown. You are perhaps taking this decision at a time of emotional crisis and are very likely feeling vulnerable and exposed. Entrusting some of the most personal aspects of your emotional self to another may well seem like a terrifying prospect and so it is completely understandable for you to want to choose the very best therapist to work with you.

When looking for a therapist to work with, some will seek advice from their GP or ask a trusted friend of a member of their family they feel close to. Many others won’t wish to discuss their decision to see a therapist with anyone because of the deeply personal nature of what is troubling them. Unfortunately also, they may feel there is some stigma attached to having any type of emotional or psychological crisis due to lingering attitudes to mental health in Ireland although hopefully attitudes are changing significantly now.

Whatever the reasons, here are some helpful things to consider as you set about choosing a counsellor of psychotherapist to begin what should be a supportive, healing and enlightening journey for you.

Training, Qualifications and Experience

Ask about professional memberships, training and experience. All practitioners listed with carrying the ‘Verified’ symbol have been verified as a member of one of the main Counselling and psychotherapy professional bodies in Ireland who are committed to meeting the requirements for statutory regulation of the profession in due course.

Ask if the therapist has experience dealing with the issue you want to explore. Many therapists have training in dealing with a broad range of issues but do not be afraid to ask if this is of importance to you.

Therapeutic Approach

See ‘Types of Therapy’ and consider if you have any particular preference around the type of therapy you feel might suit you. Don’t worry if you are unsure, you can choose a therapist with a broad range of experience and qualifications and discuss this further when you meet with a therapist.

First Impressions

Feeling comfortable with a therapist is very important as you will need to develop a productive working relationship to make progress in your therapy. The most important attribute of your therapist is Empathy. As you progress, you should feel supported but not necessarily always agreed with. A good therapist will help you explore your beliefs, thoughts and feelings but also challenge these where necessary and this is a careful balance.

Choosing the Right Therapist

Feeling able to trust your therapist will therefore be essential to building a strong working alliance for the benefit of your development. Meeting your therapist for an initial session before agreeing to work together will allow you to evaluate if you could work together. Trust your gut instinct around this and if you don’t feel comfortable, don’t proceed. You will find another therapist who may be a better fit for you.

Gender, Language and Culture

For some these may be issues and you may have a preference around gender or feel you might be more understood by someone with a similar cultural background. Alternatively you may wish to experience insight from someone of another sex or whose background has been very different to your own. Language is key to communication and its nuances can be central to understanding.

Physical Location

Is the location convenient bearing in mind you will likely be making weekly visits over a period of time? Is the room warm and comfortable and conducive to a supportive atmosphere? Things like soft lighting and candles can contribute positively to creating an atmosphere of care and support.

Fees and Charges and Duration of therapy

Feel absolutely free to raise questions with the therapist around fees, payment type, policy for cancellations and for missed sessions. This will facilitate transparency and avoid potential misunderstandings or problems later on. Ask about concessions such as student rates, and sliding scales if these are of interest or are important to you.

Most therapists will not charge for an initial session. If you decide to proceed, you can agree to work together for a number of sessions, perhaps 4 or 6 and review the position together at that stage. If you wish to continue you can ‘re-contract’ for another number of sessions or agree to review progress together at regular intervals.

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