Here are some leads for research should you want to look out a therapist near you. Most professional organisations allow you to search by post code.
British Psychological Society (BPS)
For UK Psychologists.
Health Care Professionals Council (HCPC)
For a whole range of government-approved health professionals.
British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP)
for UK-based counsellors – registered and/or accredited.
United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP)
for UK-based psychotherapists
Other leads to consider
Eye movement and Desensitisation in the UK and Northern Ireland (EMDRIA)
Also, I am going to let you have some additional information about Eye Movement and De-sensitisation Reprocessing (EMDR). It is an impactful treatment for many and we have an experienced EMDR Consultant practitioner here in the East of England.
The Counselling Society
FINDING A THERAPIST
So, it is not easy to find the right therapist for you. There are many around you, but who will work best for you?
true, you can assess their competence through finding out about their training, judge their versatility, via their level of experience but keep in mind that elusive ingredient: are they ‘right’ for you?
More problematically, you have to decide what category of therapist is right for you. You could choose:
- a psychiatrist, that is, a medically qualified psychologist. Highly educated and knowledgeable individuals but do check on additional training they have taken to offer therapeutic services. ‘Psychiatrist’ is a protected title that can be used only by suitably trained and accredited people.
- a psychologist (there are several categories of psychologist) I am a Counselling Psychologist; there are others – Clinical, Educational, Occupational and Forensic to name just four off the top of my head.
- a psycho-therapist (there are several ‘schools’ of psycho-therapy training),
- a counsellor. There are several categories of counsellor and levels of training vary from months to years. Bear in mind that, as it stands, any-one could declare themselves a ‘counsellor’ – there is too little regulation around to stop that.
- a hypno-therapist. Be particularly careful here. Some are highly qualified, but others may have done a brief training over several weeks, and may have little or no prior psychological education. There is a Council of Hypnotherapists accredited by the Professional Standards Authority, a UK-national authority and this may help identify accredited personnel in your area.
Some Psychologists have ‘protected titles’, ones covered by the State Registration scheme – that is the Health Care Professionals Council (HCPC). Even then, the term ‘psychologist’, on its own, is not presently a protected title. Be wary of the term ‘Consultant Psychologist’ and ensure the person has some actual Registration.
There are large variations in the education, training and experience in the body of individuals calling themselves counsellors or psycho-therapists. Some of the training is most stringent – involving years of study, teaching placements, research and on-going clinical supervision of all work.
Even so, a newly-qualified counsellor might be just the best thing for you. The most experienced and best qualified individual may simply not ‘gel’ with you. The personal qualities of your therapist will be as important – possibly, more important than their age, experience and qualification.
You are not likely to know who is best for you without the opportunity to speak with a few people so you can get their ‘measure’.
Some basic requirements
Ensure you work with some-one able to offer membership of a professional and accrediting organisation. You can then check on-line to see that their name is registered; sadly, there are some who will falsely claim qualifications and memberships.
Also, there are some grand-sounding names that simply require a fee. That is not sufficient to back up a claim of being a bona-fide therapist.
Some helpful tests might be:
- to ask for a free initial consultation so you can discuss the ‘match’ between you. Do not work with any-one who seems not to understand the importance of ‘match’ before therapy starts.
- Do not work with an individual who cannot name their clinical supervisor. No-one should be practising without regular access to a clinical supervisor. A clinical supervisor must be independent of the therapist; that is, not a manager within the same organisation.
- Do not work with any-one who tells you they are too senior to need a clinical supervisor. Beware the term ‘ I have access to …’. Clinical supervision should happen regularly, preferably face-to-face, although Zoom and Skype has altered that to some extent.
- Do not work, as a couple, with some-one lacking additional training in Systemic therapy. Indeed, look out for additional certifications in general. One training may be insufficient to ensure the therapist has the insights you can benefit from. For example, look out for specialist training in cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR), Body or Somatic Psychotherapies or Mindfulness. That said, Relate, a third sector organisation specialising in therapy for couples, has a good reputation.
Check the level of training claimed. Not all training is recognised or accredited – particularly in EMDR or Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP).
A good therapist should be able to provide you with a curriculum vitae (CV) laying down their qualifications and experience in some detail.
A useful and independent site to investigate can be found at:
It identifies several key questions to consider when deciding on the relevance of counselling or therapy for you.
What some of the literature has to say
My own, rather sad conclusion, is that the specific training, education and experience of a therapist may not offer you the best criteria for judging an individual’s ability to work with you.
I am not alone.
Scott Miller and others (2014), in a Paper entitled Feedback Informed Treatment (FIT): Achieving Clinical Excellence One Person at a Time, tell us that effective therapists demonstrate possess systematic differences regardless of their therapeutic orientation. They “shift their focus from traditional methods of accumulating knowledge and experience toward a more empirically-supported methodology“, that is, collecting feedback from you, demonstrating a stance of non-defensive openness in their relationship with you and negotiating individually tuned programmes.
On a final note, you may well be recommended to seek a named therapy – by friends, family and doctors. Often they will tell you what form of therapy will best help you. Most often, those individuals are not qualified to tell you what will work for you. Indeed, at the end of the day, only you can negotiate the form of therapy will work for you.
You can be helped by a professional with knowledge, qualifications and experience of working with a number of therapeutic interventions. They can know this only after a suitable assessment in which you are actively involved.
The research supports this view. For example, John McLeod, previously based in Dundee, Scotland (like me!), participated in a Paper entitled:
Strategies used by experienced therapists to explore client goals in early sessions of psychotherapy
by Hanne Weie Odli, John McLeod, Sissel Reichelt and Michael Helge Rønnestad from Oslo, Norway.
They demonstrated that clear goals for psychotherapy, negotiated during the early sessions of treatment, required therapist and client to seek out actions that were meaningful and relevant for the client – and attainable.
Both parties needed to be realistic about the complexity of the task in hand, e.g. that there would be feelings of uncertainty created during therapy and there would likely be resistance to change. They do not spell out that this applies as much to therapist, as to client, so let me add that bit!
They conclude that hope, motivation, and engagement were valued qualities to foster. Relying on explicit agreement about aims and objectives was not enough, but consensus, an understanding between both, was essential to an effective working alliance.
Nathan Beel (2011) had some interesting questions that arose from his research. He suggested ‘effective therapy’ depends on:
• fostering and maintaining an effective working alliance between therapist and client.see What can we learn from what works across therapies? Counselling Australia (Dec 2011)
• developing interventions and explanations that support the client’s theory of change.
• building awareness of the client’s strengths in order to build confidence in their own solutions.
• increasing client expectation and greater hope of improvement.
• ensuring therapist and client are on track with their relationship and in moving toward better outcomes.
• working collaboratively with the client to check on the effectiveness of the therapeutic process.
Here, in Norfolk, UK we offer a free initial consultation on a face-to-face basis, or to a global audience using Zoom. This meeting is not the start of therapy. It is intended to provide information about therapy so you can glean information and make an informed choice. This consultation can include information on the value of ‘safe experiments’.
If you have a query, I have included a contact form here: