What is it?
Psychotherapy is defined as the treatment of mental illnesses through psychological rather than medical means. However, that is not to say that psychotherapy is exclusively for those with mental illnesses. Psychotherapy can be used to explore any number of issues or difficulties that you may be experiencing, ranging from unpicking a troublesome past to the planning for a more fulfilling future.
Why a Therapist?
The therapy room is a safe space within which you can explore whatever issues or desires that you wish, without fear of judgement or consequence. Because your therapist is not involved in your life outside of the therapy room, they will not try to influence your decisions one way or another. They have no investment in your life other than your own safety and wellbeing.
They are there to listen to you, to bear witness to your story, to notice connections between past and present that you might have missed.
‘But I can do all of that with a friend in the pub’ you might say. That is true, you may well be able to put the world to rights with your mates. However, if you had a problem with your partner, can you be 100% sure that the information would not get back to your other half? If you had an issue with a colleague, can you trust that your mate won’t let it slip at the office Christmas party?
A therapist is bound by confidentiality, meaning that you can be sure that what you say within the therapy room will stay within the therapy room. Furthermore, talking to a therapist, rather than to a friend, means that the focus is 100% on you. This might seem daunting at first, but having 50 minutes set aside each week dedicated to your wellbeing can turn out to be incredibly valuable.
When considering starting out on your therapeutic journey, there are several things to consider.
Location. You might want to find a therapist that is easy to travel to from your home or work. However, you might also want to travel further as a way of separating your therapeutic journey from your day-to-day life. The choice is yours, the world is your oyster.
Price. Although you are under no obligation to continue therapy indefinitely, it would be a shame to have to end your relationship because of a lack of funds.
Qualifications: Unfortunately, ‘Counsellor’ and ‘Psychotherapist’ are not protected titles in the UK, meaning that anyone can call themselves therapists, even those without any formal training at all. Therefore, it is important to check a therapist’s qualifications.
Finally, for some, the gender of their therapist might be important. If you want a therapist who is either the same or opposite gender from yourself, that is your prerogative.
However, it might be interesting to consider why you are drawn towards one gender or another. It might be that you feel more comfortable with someone of the same gender as you, or that you see one gender or another as being more capable or less threatening. It might be that you have had a traumatic experience with either a male or female in the past and therefore you wish to avoid opening up to a therapist of that gender. However, some clients may seek out a therapist of the same gender as a problematic character in the past with the aim of experiencing a healthy relationship with someone of that gender.
Making the Decision
It might seem daunting to choose a therapist from the multitudes of therapist profiles and organisations in your area.
There are as many styles of therapy as there are therapists in the world, and although this may seem daunting, it also means that there is an extremely high probability that you will find a therapist who is a perfect fit for you.
You also are not obliged to stick with your therapist forever. You are free and able to ‘shop around’ for therapists before settling down with someone. Set up initial meetings with various therapists in your area to see what they are life.
Now, this won’t be cheap, as you will most likely have to pay for these sessions, and it also won’t be fool-proof, as you can’t get to know someone fully within one 50-minute meeting. However, what it will do is give you a flavour of who the therapist is and if you will be able to work together. Furthermore, although it may set back the work that you are doing, there is nothing to stop you from changing counsellor at a later date!
If you would like to book an initial counselling session with me, please contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org