5 Tips for finding the right private therapist
You’re on an NHS waiting list, but you know it’s going to be at least 8 months until you’re offered an appointment. You’ve had a handful of sessions with a local organisation but feel it wasn’t enough and you’re still struggling. You’ve decided that private practice might be a good option for you and have done research about the type of therapy you want. Okay, cool. I need CBT. You open Google and type in “CBT in Manchester” and BAM! Page after page of options. Oh no! Not another rabbit hole of research!
I’ve got you covered.
I’ve put together some useful tips for things to consider, questions to ask and what to look out for when you’re choosing your therapist.
Top tips from a private therapist
1. Check the therapist is a member of a professional body
Believe it or not, it’s illegal for someone to do a weekend online course, get a cheap website and call themselves a therapist! There are some titles that are still not legally protected, like ‘counsellor’, ‘CBT therapist’ or ‘psychotherapist’.
To ensure you’re working with someone that has the level of training, skills and experience you need, I would advise you to check that they are a member of a professional body such as the BABCP, BACP, UKCP or HPCP. You can check directly with the professional organisation, look out for the logo on their website or use a directory site that checks the credentials of their members for you, such as psychology today.
You may also want to consider whether the person is “accredited” This means that they have met specific requirements after they have qualified; it's an extra seal of approval from the professional body.
A top tip if you want a CBT therapist, you are looking for someone that is a member of the BABCP. This means you will get someone that has extensive training, not just a short course on CBT skills.
2. Consider finding someone that specialises in working with your particular problem
Imagine that you were looking for a dietician for your best friend who was allergic to nuts. Would you want to pick the first dietician on Google? Or would you want a dietician who specialised in allergies; that spends all day working with allergies and who does all of their professional development in that area? I know which one I would pick.
Many therapists will also make it very clear that they specialise in a specific area in the title of their website or their “about me” description. For example, I specialise in working with overthinking, intrusive thoughts, anxiety and OCD.
Think about the main problem you’re facing. Worrying about social situations and what friends think of you? Imposter syndrome? People pleasing? Having disturbing thoughts and images? Struggling to feel connected to loved ones? Make a list of the types of phrases you would expect your ideal therapist to write about on their website and see if you can spot them. Also look at what their testimonials say, do previous clients mention the sorts of things that you experience too?
But remember, that most therapists will be trained and experienced in helping with a wide range of problems, so even if they don’t name your issue on their website, they may still be a good fit for you.
3. Consider working with a therapist that has specific characteristics
The great thing about going private is that you get to choose what sort of therapist you want. Ask yourself how important is it for you that your therapist has certain characteristics. This could be about their gender, age or another characteristic; like whether they share that they’re vegan or mention their own experience of having therapy.
Some therapists will share this sort of information on their website, others won’t, but don’t be afraid to ask if it is important to you. But remember that when it comes to personal information, therapists want the work to be focused on you, so they won’t tell you too much about their personal lives or experience. Got to keep those boundaries in place!
4. Ask if your therapist has experience working with people that share your characteristics.
When it comes to having a therapist that respects and understands you, rest assured that all therapists have a code of ethics. This means they work with a range of people with many characteristics, such as different religions, ethnicities, sexuality, gender identity, and cultural backgrounds. Therapists strive for high standards when it comes to equality, diversity and inclusion. Many therapists will undertake additional training to ensure they are anti-oppressive in their practice and can support you in a way that feels empowering to you.
You will find that some therapists specialise in working with certain groups, but if they don’t say this on their website, it doesn’t mean that they can’t help you. If you’re nervous and unsure whether your therapist will ‘get’ you it’s okay to ask questions about their experience. I want to reassure you that some questions are super common, I regularly have clients ask if I am LGBTQIA+ friendly, or other less obvious things, like whether I am kink friendly.
Chances are that opening up this conversation, in the beginning, will let your therapist know that these issues are important and that you may want to explore them in your work together.
5. Shop around for the right fit and arrange a consultation call.
Hopefully, having looked at these tips, you’ve got a sense that shopping around can be important.
One of the first things I say to potential new clients is I want them to feel like it’s a ‘good fit’ and it’s okay if I’m not your cup of tea. I would rather you find the person that is right for you, even if it means that isn’t me.
Research has shown that the relationship between the therapist and the client is one of the biggest factors in successful outcomes in therapy. Take your time to read the profiles of a few different therapists and check out their social media pages, many therapists have socials like Instagram. This is a great way to get a sense of their personality.
When you're ready, contact your potential therapist and ask if they offer a consultation call. Just 10 minutes on the phone can help you to get a sense of whether you will feel comfortable with them.
Make a few notes about the sorts of questions that you would want to ask them. Here are some examples to get you started:
Can we have sessions online and in person?
Can you tell me what an average session might look like?
Have you worked with people with intrusive thoughts before?
I’ve got mobility issues, is your office accessible?
Do you have experience working with people that have these kinds of issues?
If you feel like we would be a good fit to work together click here to book a consultation call