7 Golden Rules for Finding the Right Therapist

You’ve accepted the need to trust another human being – a therapist – with details so personal you wouldn’t share them with anyone else. But how do you know whether you have found the right therapist? If this is a new area for you, you probably won’t have any expectations or benchmarks to be able to compare one therapist with another. In this article, we provide seven tips as a guide to help you choose the right therapist for you:

1: How do I know if a therapist is any good?

Quite simply, this isn’t easy to prove before your therapy starts. Instead of wasting lots of time researching the person, first, see if there are any client testimonials on their website. Then, look at their qualifications – what’s their training background? Are they members of any professional organisations? For example, they might be on the Health Protection Agency’s Professional Standards Register. However, although these details are very important when choosing a therapist, remember: testimonials, qualifications and memberships DO NOT equate to effectiveness.

2: How do you feel after your therapy session?

You will need to have a session with a therapist before you can properly evaluate them. Therefore, ask yourself this question – how do you feel after your first therapy session? Did you leave with something you didn’t have before, which you know will move you forward in the right direction? This could include hope, inspiration, or a slight boost to your confidence or self-esteem. It could include an awareness of the knowledge, techniques and strategies that will be used to help you along your therapy journey. An effective therapist will ALWAYS give you something you didn’t have before.

3: Did the therapist make you feel listened to?

This is important – your therapist should make you feel valued. They should be supportive and non-judgemental and make you feel as if your concerns are of the utmost importance. After all, the reason you are there is because of the way you are feeling. If you don’t feel that your therapist is listening to you, this is a problem. A therapist needs to gain your full trust if you are going to establish the right relationship to make positive changes in your life.

4: How do you feel in between sessions?

Did you feel that your last session was a valuable use of your time? A good therapy session should leave you feeling glad that you saw your therapist that day and inspired to move forward. If you can’t wait to see your therapist again, this is a good sign. However, if you’re dreading your next therapy session, this might indicate that your current therapist isn’t the right person for you. Remember – some issues such as abuse, trauma and addiction involve facing hard truths. Never get confused between the problems you are coming to terms with instead of the therapist themselves. Instead, assess whether you feel that you’re moving forwards to a more positive future or whether you are still stuck in limbo.

5: Be the boss – give feedback.

Your therapist needs to understand how you are feeling AND how you feel you are doing when it comes to your sessions, so it is really important to give feedback. Tell your therapist what’s helping and what’s not. This will give your therapist the chance to change their approach in terms of method or style. If you are aware of any obstacles, have an honest conversation with your therapist about your concerns. Be the boss in your own therapy.

6: Are your sessions making a tangible difference in your life?

Usually, depending on your problems, you would ask this question after a few sessions. How has your day-to-day life changed as a result of your sessions? Are there any significant differences in terms of how you are feeling? It is important to measure the results of your therapy sessions. However, it is also worth remembering some long-term problems may need several sessions, although our approach is to always keep sessions to the minimum.

7: Are you comfortable with the therapist’s approach?

Nowadays, counselling and therapy can be provided in a variety of ways including face to face, via telephone and online using Skype. Depending on your problems, some of these options might not be suitable – for example, if you are dealing with severe agoraphobia, then you may prefer telephone or Skype therapy. You might have difficulty time-wise due to a busy workload (that may even be the problem itself) – therefore, evening telephone sessions could be better for you. Decide on the type of sessions that feel right for you and your situation.

“I was amazed how beneficial your counselling sessions were for me. As you know, I have been going through a very emotional time since suddenly losing my Dad in February this year, which was completely unexpected. Following our sessions, remarkably, I felt completely different about things and have been very productive now for months. Almost all of what you were saying sounded just like me and the way I have allowed my mind to control me with negative thoughts. I am very keen to continue with counselling in the future as I do not want to return to anxiety medication again. Thanks again.”
Fred, Landscape Gardener

If you’re struggling to find the right therapist, then please get in touch. At CWI, we provide a range of therapy and counselling sessions to help people deal with difficult issues, transform negative emotions and change unwanted behaviours.