I started my therapy journey 15 years ago at a time in my life when everything felt very out of control. It was a hazy time in my life, but I don’t remember doing any research in to finding a therapist. I saw a postcard advertising counselling in a newsagent’s window (feels so old-fashioned now!) and organised my first ever therapy session.
Things have changed a bit since then. Online resources and directories are plentiful and as we move in to a world where there is so much more awareness around mental health, there are many trained professionals to choose from. So many that it can feel quite overwhelming and you might not have a clue where to start. Questions that often come up at this stage of contemplation: What type of therapy do I choose? How do I know if the therapist is qualified or good even? Even more important, how do I know if they’re right for me?
The therapeutic relationship is paramount to effective therapy, so it’s important that you take some time and consideration to find a therapist that feels right for you. There are some essential checks around qualifications that I would encourage you to do before you make contact.
Whilst industry body registration won’t necessarily guarantee an effective practitioner, I would still ensure that any potential therapists are registered with a professional association such as BACP (British Association of Counsellors and Psychotherapists) or UKCP (UK Council for Psychotherapists). Therapists and counsellors that are registered with these associations will be qualified at Postgraduate or degree level, ensuring that they have gone through extensive training. Both of these associations have comprehensive therapist listings from which you can choose from according to location/issues you are looking for help with/price etc. I also recommend www.counselling-directory.org.uk as a reputable counselling directory. Pink Therapy (www.pinktherapy.com) is an excellent platform for the LGBTQI+ community. BAATN (The Black, African and Asian Therapy Network) is also a fantastic directory to support people from these heritages.
Once you have considered these practical steps, the rest is based on what resonates for you. Read the profiles and notice what you connect with. You may be influenced by age, whether they are male/female/non-binary, their sexual orientation. It may be the type of language that the therapist uses that you are drawn to. It might even just be a friendly face that draws you in. It is all about what feels right for you. Yes, take your time, have a look around. However, don’t think too hard. If somebody stands out, contact them. I offer a 10 minute phone call prior to meeting so that any potential clients can get a sense of how it is to work with me, I know that many other therapists offer this also. Please do not think that you will be obliged to continue therapy once you have had your first session, this is your time to see if it might be right for you.
The therapeutic journey can at times be uncomfortable and this is generally where you will experience growth and healing. It’s important however that you feel in a comfortable space with your therapist in order to get uncomfortable! Listen to your gut, your intuition and follow what feels right for you.