What to look for in a therapist

If you have never experienced therapy before, it can seem like a foreign land with a foreign language.

CBT, EMDR, person-centred, integrative, psychodynamic – a lot of text that doesn’t really mean much to the uninitiated.

Depending on your issue, there is likely to be a variety of approaches that will work for you. If anything, this makes choosing a therapist even more difficult.

So how do you go about choosing a therapist, if there are so many variables involved?

In practical terms, there are several things to consider:

  1. Does the therapist have an appropriate qualification? You should consider looking for a therapist with a minimum of a Level 4 Diploma in counselling.*
  2. Does the therapist have experience that is relevant to the issue you are looking to work through?
  3. Is the therapist able to accommodate your needs around location/day/time? If getting to your therapy is difficult for you, it could become an obstacle to you continuing your therapy.
  4. Is the therapist able to accommodate your accessibility needs?

Beyond the practicalities of finding a therapist, it is important to consider your relational needs.

Everyone is different. We all need something different from a therapist. Being able to identify what works best for you is vital.

For example, do you communicate better with someone who is direct? Or do you prefer a softer approach?

Therapy, ultimately, will only be successful if the client and therapist can build a trusting relationship. As a client, if you do not feel able to speak honestly with your therapist, they may not be the right person for you.

Therapy itself will not always be a comfortable experience. The very nature of the process – of looking inside yourself – can be difficult to do. The feeling of discomfort, however, should not be as a result of a failure of the relationship in the room.

The first therapist you contact may not be the one for you. Or the second…or the third. But it is worth persevering. Working with the right therapist can be a transformative experience that will change your life for the better. It is definitely worth taking the time to find “the one”.

If you would like to discuss anything in this post, please feel free to get in touch.


* In the UK, counselling and psychotherapy is an unregulated profession. This means that there is no specific requirement for anyone to have undergone any training. If in any doubt, looking to work with a therapist who is a member of a member’s organisation such as the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) will ensure the therapist has the necessary qualifications and experience to keep you safe.

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