Selecting A Good Counselor For Your Wellbeing

It is difficult enough knowing how to get help and support for mental health and emotional issues, but once you do you might be overwhelmed at the plethora of therapists offering their services. In the first instance you could try talking things through with your doctor or someone you can trust. You may feel you do not want to access psychological services through your General Practitioner for a variety of reasons such as; having information on your medical records. You may consider employing the services of a private practitioner. An ‘informed’ doctor should signpost you to the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy, The United Kingdom of Counselling and Psychotherapy or The British Association of Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapists for more information. However, you could search the web putting key words into the search engine, but this may generate a long list of therapists who might be marketing savvy, but not necessarily qualified or registered.

When seeking a psychotherapy near me ensure the counsellor is fully qualified and registered with a governing body, working to their ethical framework, code of conduct and complaints procedure. Your Therapist should have insurance, ‘enhanced disclosure’ and evidence of their annual ‘continuing professional development’, which is a mandatory element of professional practice as is clinical supervision. For example; they should undertake a minimum of; one and a half hours supervision for every eight hours counselling they offer to their clients and should tell you who their Supervisor is. Normally a Counsellor or psychotherapists would only undertake five sessions of counselling in any one day to be compliant with best practice policy and procedure due to the intense nature of the work.

When seeking a counsellor you should look at the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy website and consider the most suitable therapist to work with you and your presenting issues. You may take other factors into consideration such as; distance, cost, availability and other practicalities. Your therapist should have their qualifications and portfolio available for you to view and you should have a clear understanding of what they are offering and what model of counselling or psychotherapy is available. You may wish to see testimonials or feedback from other people but bear in mind the confidentiality factors involved with this, and be aware that these could simply be marketing tools. In this field of work it is difficult to get recommendations due to the stigma, which can exist in mental health. Clients might not want to openly discuss their personal experience of counselling due to the nature of the work as they will ‘self disclose’ by default.

Your therapist should be willing to demonstrate their training and how many hours training they have actually undertaken and at what level, which often is confusing and could be mis-represented They should also know how many counselling hours they have provided. For example; that they have studied at University for five years full-time at degree level or beyond and have over eight hundred hours practice under their belt. On the other hand a therapist undertaking eighteen hours of part time study over a six week period is not likely to be adequately or suitably trained or qualified to work with you especially in respect of mental health issues. Most therapists will offer an opportunity to meet to see if they are the right therapist for you. Your therapist must be open and transparent about their work.

The whole point of ensuring the therapist belongs to an organisation is because they have a qualifying criteria, strict codes of conduct, an ethical framework and more importantly have a complaints procedure to protect the public. If a therapist does not belong to a governing body this means the public are not protected should an issue arise as the therapist is not accountable. It is likely to mean that they are not qualified or have not undertaken any specialised training and are unlikely to have ‘appropriate’ insurance. Be mindful that membership to any organisation does not necessarily mean ‘qualified’.

The terms ‘Counselling’ and ‘psychotherapists’ were to become ‘protected’ titles, which means that no one can call themselves a counsellor or Psychotherapist unless of course they are; similar to the protected titles of ‘Art Therapists, Nurses, Doctors’ Police and Solicitors. Unfortunately, this is not now on the present government’s agenda for the immediate future. The British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy are making it their mission to educate the public through a range of free fact sheets, which are available to download. Having an enhanced disclosure is a legal requirement if working with children, young people and adults who are vulnerable. Remember, many people who ‘present’ with mental health issues are ‘vulnerable’.

The relationship between you and your therapist is unique, the quality of which is crucial and part of the therapeutic process. Your therapist should provide a clear overview of what they are offering and what model of counselling or psychotherapy is being offered. You should have a contract, which is agreed and signed by both parties, which remains a ‘working document’ and can be changed with agreement from both parties at any time. A contract will contain information about the agreed model, the frequency, intensity and duration of the treatment. It will outline the treatment plan and should have reviews built in and a ‘planned’ ending session. The contract will have agreements about how sessions are cancelled and what procedures are in place around the management of the sessions. This protects both parties to ensure there is no misunderstanding. Remember you have the right to end your therapy at any time. For more info: