When people ring or email me about counselling, they are trying to make a really quick and difficult decision about whether or not I am the right therapist for them. People in this position generally have very little information about me, how I practice or even know what they really want to get from a counsellor. I hope to provide some of this information here to make this decision easier and to improve your chances of getting the right counsellor for you.
Is the type of counselling important to me or not?
The answer to this question is partly determined by the kind of problem you are bringing to counselling and the kind of focus and goals you have for counselling. If you would like more information about the different kinds of counselling approaches available please click here.
Although the kind of counselling offered may be important there is one factor that the research says is the most important and which should help you to know if you have got the right counsellor not. This factor is:
“The quality of the relationship between you the client and your counsellor”
The best way to find out if you can develop this kind of therapeutic relationship with your counsellor is to give them a ring. You get an idea if this might be someone you can talk to. If this feels right then book an initial appointment and then decide after it whether or not this person is someone you can trust and make a relationship with.
If however, you feel that you would like to understand a little more about the kinds of therapy available then I have put together a short introduction to some of the major approaches to counselling that you can choose from.
There are over 400 kinds of therapy to choose from but I have chosen the three main schools of counselling and a modern approach which the research suggests is what the majority of therapists adopt in the end any way:
Freud was the founder of this approach which is the oldest of the approaches offered and is most known by the general public. This approach says that humans are motivated by unconscious forces that drive our thoughts, feelings and behaviours and our psychological problems come from past experiences which shape what we are and how we behave.
The focus of this kind of therapy is on helping you to identify and understand some of these unconscious processes and how they have been shaped by your early childhood so that you can change them if you want. If you are looking to try to understand your behaviours and find yourself doing the same things over and again then this type of therapy may be for you.
Person Centred or Humanistic
This approach assumes that as humans, we are always looking to improve ourselves to ultimately become all that we can be. It also assumes that when we are free of our defences, we are constructive, genuine and trustworthy.
This kind of therapist will primarily seek to create the right kind of environment by offering you what are called the core conditions so that you can begin to realise and achieve your potential. Many approaches offer these conditions or variations but the person centred counsellor makes this the focus of the therapy. They believe that all of the answers will come from you, therefore, if you’re not looking for any guidance, but are looking to offload and find you own way, then this kind of approach might be good for you.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)
This kind of therapy is based on the assumption that feelings and behaviour come mainly from the way we think about things and is a more action focused than the others. By understanding and changing our thinking, we can begin to alter how we feel and our behaviour.
This kind of therapy looks to understand how we interpret our world and events and identify where our thinking may be causing our problems and to then find ways to make changes. CBT tends to be a shorter term therapy than Psycho-Dynamic and Person-Centred.
This approach integrates the three main schools of psychology in a way that recognises the complexity of the human mind and which fits the client. Working in this way means that the therapist can utilise a range of therapeutic tools skills and ideas from other approaches to match your needs and requirements, rather than being restricted to just one way of working. This means that your therapy is tailored to you.
I am an Integrative therapist and in addition I can now offer to teach people a set of energy psychology techniques called EFT that combines mental focusing on problem thinking, feelings and even behaviours whilst tapping on points around the face and torso to effect change. These techniques have transformed my practice and those of therapists around the world and led to some remarkable successes for clients. Click here for more information about EFT.
What should I ask about your qualifications? (Click here to find out about mine)
To begin with you will want to ensure that your counsellor has:
1. The right qualifications
3. Accreditation with a professional organisation.
Your chosen counsellor should have at least a Diploma in Counselling validated by a nationally reputable Exam board. If you are going for a particular problem you may wish to see if they have the relevant training e.g. trauma training using EMDR or EFT. If you are a teenager you may want to know if they have relevant training with young people.
Your counsellor should have up to date private and public liability insurance for a suitable amount with a reputable insurance provider like for example “Towergate Insurance”
Accreditation with a professional organisation
It is important to check that any counsellor you choose is a member of, or even better, accredited with a professional organisation. Here in the UK the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) is a key umbrella organisation for counselling. Most counsellors are registered with it, and many are accredited by it, but this is not yet a legal requirement.
For example, I am a BACP Accredited Counsellor/Psychotherapist which means that I have met their strict criteria for qualified and experienced therapists, and that I work in accordance with their guidelines. In order to maintain my accreditation I undergo at least 30 hours of professional development each year by attending on-going training and other types of personal development.
My accreditation also means that you have access to their complaints procedure for your safety and protection.
The BACP website includes references to other organisations.
How much do I need to know about your background?
Although experience does not guarantee quality it certainly is an indication that the accredited counsellor has been through a supervised learning process that should improve their skills. Asking about the kind of work your counsellor has been involved with might be important to you in finding the right person for you.
I have worked for fifteen years with literally thousands of people of all ages and from different social groups and in different settings including education, medical practice, workplace settings, business and private institutions.
I have worked with a wide range of problems (please click here for more information) and have written for International publications and presented papers at National conferences.
When I Google ‘Counselling in Liverpool’, I get about 2 million results. How can I be expected to find the right therapist for me?
"If we do not change the direction we are going, we are likely to end up where we are headed." Chinese proverb.