The first thing that you need to look for is the therapist’s training and education. Many therapists will list this on their website or the directory that they are listed on will display the therapist’s training. There are a few different training routes to become a therapist in the UK. So, don’t be alarmed if your chosen therapist doesn’t have an MA or PhD after their name.
Many therapists do train via university degrees, but many also train through diplomas and various levels. Therefore, their website might show that they have done “Level 2 in Counselling and Psychotherapy” etc.
2. Do they belong to a governing body?
There are a few different governing bodies in the UK for counsellors and psychotherapists. The main ones are the BACP (British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy), the UKCP (the UK Council for Psychotherapy), and the NCS (National Counselling Society).
Therapists do not have to register with a governing body, however it is something to consider when seeking a therapist. It shows a certain level of commitment and training on the part of the therapist and gives you, the client, some peace of mind as you have somewhere to go if something were to go wrong within the therapy. Governing bodies are there to protect the interests of both the therapist and the client.
The location of your therapist’s office can be of great importance to many clients. How easy is it to get to before work, after work, on your lunch break, while the kids are at school? Do you want it to be near to your house or your office or neither? Some people might like to have a bit of a commute as it allows them time to think and process after the session.
Have a think about not only the geography of the location but psychological space that you might want around the therapy session. How would you feel about potentially bumping into your therapist in the local supermarket? Perhaps you are happy with this, perhaps you don’t want your family to know that you are in therapy (not that your therapist should come up and introduce themselves to your family…)
Within the world of psychotherapy and counselling, continuity is very important. Most therapists will want to keep the appointments at the same time each week for a number of reasons. One reason is that it provides a routine for both them and the client (allowing the therapist to minimise disruptions to other client’s appointment times), another reason is that it provides a constant for the client, something that they can rely on week in and week out.
Therefore, it is important that you check out that your availability matches the therapist’s availability when you organise to embark on therapy sessions together. Are you able to attend on an ongoing basis? Are you having to take time out of your workday to come to therapy? If so, is your workplace okay with this happening every week? Is someone having to pick up the kids from school for you while you have your therapy session? Will they be able to reliably pick up the kids each week for you?
Obviously, life happens, managers change their minds about their flexibility, things come up with the kids and so on. Therapists will understand this. However, it is always a shame when therapy must end prematurely because of scheduling complications.
Now, most people don’t like to talk about money, but it is an important topic. Paying for therapy is an important part of the process. It shows a commitment on the part of the client, and it allows the therapist to continue to provide the service. Much like what was just said above, ensuring that you can afford the therapy fees each week will allow for continuity in the therapy journey and will mean that you can continue to see the therapist for as long as you feel it is necessary. Make sure that you check the therapist’s fees before beginning your therapeutic journey and make sure that it is within your budget.
Therapist’s fees vary widely, depending on their location, level of training, and the exact service that they provide. If you struggle to find a therapist within your budget, there are likely to be many free services within your area, you might just have to sit on a waiting list for a little while.
As always, you are more than free to change therapist if you feel like there is something missing, your schedule changes, your financial situation changes, or you just want to try something new. Disrupting the therapeutic process in order to change therapists might set you back slightly or halt your progress, however it is not the end of the world! Find what works for you, and keep looking until you do.
If you would like to book an initial counselling session with me, please contact me on email@example.com