Sunday, 20 October 2013

Finding and Choosing the 'Right' Therapist for You

Looking for counselling or psychotherapy?
How do you go about finding a suitable therapist or counsellor? Definitely search on Google for 'Oxford counselling' or 'Oxford psychotherapy' and see who is out there. But then how do you choose?

The difficulties a lay-person encounters in finding a suitable practitioner

At the last count, there are now more than 400 different psychotherapeutic approaches, and this number does not even includevcounsellors, counselling psychologists, psychologists, psychiatrists. The taskvof finding and choosing a psychological practitioner is clearly a minefield. 
At the end of the day, a lot comes down to the person as well as their approach or particular technique. 

If you have had a previous bad experience, it is hard to know how much was due to the therapist's particular style and way of working, and to what extent counselling or psychotherapy simply is not for you or cannot help you. Because of the wide variety and contradictory assumptions of the diverse approaches, it is impossible to generalise from one therapeutic experience to the whole rest of the field. Chances are that a completely different therapist who would work for you is just around the corner.
Unfortunately there is not one clear principle or belief that can be considered a consensus amongst therapists. Some of the most cherished beliefs of one approach are negated or even considered detrimental by another approach. There is more disagreement and variety amongst counsellors and therapists than amongst other helping professions. That means you are likely to have a completely different, possibly opposite , experience with another therapist.

It is therefore helpful for you as the customer to inform yourself as widely as possible as to what kind of therapeutic work is available in your local area, whilst taking into consideration the competing claims and often prejudiced accounts which different therapeutic approaches give of each other.

However, whilst informing yourself is without doubt helpful, it may not be sufficient to enable you to come to a convincing decision.

There are so many approaches, variables and parameters to take into account, how can you find the 'right' therapist for you?

Difficulties in finding a practitioner...
  • fragmented field of psychological therapies
  • many approaches with often contradictory principles, confusing to the lay-person
  • professional jargon and pathologising language
  • biased and self-serving advice, hyped marketing promises
  • differences between approaches not well understood (there are strengths and weaknesses of each approach - needs an unbiased, balanced evaluation)
  • prejudices and misconceptions about therapy through the media
  • counselling and psychotherapy have received criticisms and scorn (both warranted and unwarranted) from some health professionals
Over the next few months I will write up some of the main considerations that I take into account when making a recommendation - follow me on Twitter for news of updates ...

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