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Finding the right counsellor – do your homework! 

Finding a counsellor that is both right for you and has the right qualifications can be daunting. We hope you find this blog useful to assist you when trying to find the right counsellor for you.

Be prepared to work with the therapist for at least four sessions to give the therapeutic relationship a chance to work – although if you have an instant, strong feeling in the first session that this is not right for you, then do not hesitate to try another therapist.  

Manage your expectations – therapy and feeling better takes time….usually a longer time than you imagine! 

Why accreditation is important

Therapists can apply to achieve accreditation by their professional body – accreditation represents a mark of an experienced therapist working to a high standard of professionalism and competence, although many registered therapists also work to a high standard without accreditation. If a counsellor has registration status it is sensible to ask about their experience in the areas you are seeking help in.

 

Useful links to trusted resources:

Counselling Directory – How To Find a Counsellor  

BACP – Using Our Therapist

 

A personal story from one of our Trustees 

I looked at a few online resources and asked myself if they fit with my own experience. I think ‘sort of’ was my conclusion.  

My upbringing and education taught me to be wary of opening up to strangers and that the family’s affairs were to stay firmly within our four walls. Yes, they stayed within those four walls but they never got talked about. 

My first engagement with therapists was in rehab so I don’t really count that. I never really felt I had agency or choice who I saw and so I just rolled with it. With hindsight and more experience of counselling, there are a couple of therapists at rehab I would run a mile from these days. Well-meaning but fixated on sticking to formula rather than being patient-focused and demonstrating true insight.  

So my first real experience of choosing the therapist was five years into my recovery when childhood trauma exploded to the surface and intrusive thoughts reduced me to a wreck. I had to get help. Old voices echoed round my head of keeping quiet and being ‘strong’. The kind of ‘strength’ that kills people by not talking about the things that hurt us. The best advice I had from a therapist friend was to park the loyalty to my family and get talking again. That did the trick. I think misplaced loyalty to family and loved ones stops so many of us from opening up. 

 

Exploring my options

I researched online, mostly bewildered and confused. Is psychodynamic better than integrative? What even are they? Would something called eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing help me? Or maybe matrix reimprinting would do the trick?  

I read horror stories of disreputable practitioners making wild and unsubstantiated claims about their qualifications and track record – oddly, these folk weren’t registered or a recognised body (BACP, UKCP, NCS). I was quite shocked at the misrepresentation out there and the kind of qualifications that get masqueraded as reputable. That insight helped me to focus my search. 

Another counsellor suggested I look beyond the label of the modality to understand what the therapist had achieved, where their interests and speciality lay. That helped me to whittle down my list to a handful of candidates. At this time, I decided to write down my pain in a frenetic burst of catharsis. It poured out of me. I know that not everyone would be in a position to do this, but it helped me enormously and gave me a better sense of the kind of help I thought I needed. 

 

Finding the right counsellor for me

Matrix reimprinting was the technique that helped to reduce my trauma. But I needed to go on the journey to assure myself that I was making the right decision. In simple terms, it came down to trust. 

I emailed the therapist my scribblings and within three days I began my first session with him. Yet another life-changing moment in my life. 

In summary, it’s wise to research therapists who are professionally accredited with a recognised body and to really consider the kind of help you think you need.  

Therapists can apply to achieve accreditation by their professional body – accreditation represents a mark of an experienced therapist working to a high standard of professionalism and competence, although many registered therapists also work to a high standard without accreditation. If a counsellor has registration status it is sensible to ask about their experience in the areas you are seeking help in.

 

Author: Seán Robinson, Trustee of The Counselling Foundation

 

We provide a BACP accredited counselling service, however if you are in crisis, please call the Samaritans who are available 24/7 on 116 123 or call 111.

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