There are times when we all need a bit of help with our mental health and counselling is a great way to start. Therapy is by no means a magical fix but there are countless bodies of evidence that suggest that it can have a positive impact and help people. I have both seen people getting better through working with them as well as receiving help from having therapy. Quest Psychology specialises in counselling using CBT and person centred therapy amongst other approaches and we recognise that it is important that you find someone that understands you and your situation. That you feel that you can trust them and are not judged. But how do you pick the right person? How do you know they have the right tools to help you?
1. Are They A Registered Practitioner?
First of all you want to make sure that the person you are thinking of seeing for therapy sessions is a registered or licensed practitioner. When looking for a psychologist you want to see that someone has a Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) registered which means that they meet the legal requirement to call themselves a psychologist and ideally be registered with the British Psychological Society (BPS). For counsellors and psychotherapists it is a little more difficult to discern because anyone, by law, can call themselves this title. So you want to find someone who is registered and ideally accredited (which means their level of experience) with the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) or UK Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP). Finally, a CBT therapist would need to be registered with the British Association for Behavioural & Cognitive Psychotherapies (BABCP).
All of the registering bodies above have online registers that you can view to check that your mental health practitioner is currently able to actively work through either a name search or asking the person for their registration number.
2. Ask For Recommendations
Talking to others about the potential visit to a psychologist can be daunting and it can be a private topic. However, it is likely that one of your friends or family members have also visited a therapist at some point and as a result they might be able to recommend you someone that has helped them.
If this is not an option you can always go and look at someone’s reviews. This might be on their website or on Google. You can see the amount of people that have recommended Quest Psychology by clicking the links above.
3. Look For Experience
Look for someone who has experience with the particular issue you need help with and ask them what approaches they would typically use to help that. You can check the National Institute of Clinical Excellence’s guidelines for what they recommend working with each problem. This gives you the foundation for being able to identify what type of therapies might be useful for you.
Alternatively we have written about Anxiety, Bereavement, Depression, Eating Disorders, Low self-esteem, PTSD and relationship problems and what treatments would usually be used to help with these problems here. As well as writing a summary about ACT, CBT, DBT, EMDR, Mindfulness and Person Centred Therapy and show you how many sessions are usually used and what problems they help with here.
4. Places to Look
There are a range of tools you can use to find a psychologist near you. The most commonly used is Google and other search engines. Other reputable sources are Psychology Today and the Counselling Directory.
5. Make Some Calls
Connection is important and giving your potential psychologist a call and asking them a few questions will provide an opportunity to get a ‘feel’ for them. With a believed 60% of therapeutic change occurring solely due to the relationship rather than the type of therapy it is important that you meet with someone you connect with. A couple of useful questions to ask are:
- Do you have space to take on new clients?
- What times are available?
- How much is it per session?
- How long have you been practising?
- Do you work with my problem of…..?
- What therapies are you trained in?
6. Struggling To Pay?
If you think that you cannot afford to pay for psychology sessions there are a few different routes you can take but chances are there will be a medium-long waiting list.
- You can speak to your GP about being referred to the NHS
- You can refer yourself to the Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT)
- You can have a look at charities in your area
- Your local Mind, local Rethink Mental Illness, or local Turning Point branch may be able to offer you talking therapies.
- Mental Health Matters (MHM) offers a telephone counselling service and talking therapies in some areas.
- Anxiety UK offers talking therapies for anxiety. There is a fee but they do offer reduced costs for people on a low income.
- Cruse Bereavement Care may offer free counselling services if you have experienced the death of someone close to you.
- Rape Crisis centres offer counselling to survivors of sexual abuse and sometimes to their families.
- If you are a student it is likely that your University, College or School has a counselling service you can access
- Alternatively your Employee Assistance Programme through work may be able to refer you and pay for therapy, so it can be worth speaking to HR.