Finding the treatment you need can sometimes to a difficult task. If you have decided to find a therapist outside the NHS it’s important that they have the qualifications, skills and experience to be able to help you.
Whether you are interested in receiving treatment at our clinic or elsewhere, check out our guide below of the 3 best places to help you find a therapist.
Find A Therapist Through Your Doctor:
One of the best options open to you, is to speak with your doctor for a recommendation. Whilst your GP might work in the NHS, they will often be aware of other local services outside the NHS that could be useful to you. These might be private therapy services, or in some cases there might be charitable organisations that offer effective therapy nearby. In many cases your GP may even offer to refer you to a suitable therapist, or alternatively many will be receptive to you requesting a referral. This can be helpful as it allows the therapist that you work with to have any important information on your background prior to meeting you.
If you don’t feel comfortable speaking with your GP about finding a therapist then another option is to contact a local private GP or Consultant Psychiatrist. Whilst these doctors charge for consultations, many will offer advice of Therapists that they work with or refer to within your area. One benefit of this is that you are more likely to be accessing a suitably qualified and experienced therapist, as doctors working within the private health sector take time to build close relationships with the Therapists they refer to.
Find A Therapist Online:
As with many areas of life, one of the easiest ways to find a therapist is to look online via a search engine. This can be an incredibly quick way to find a range of therapists contact details – with many welcoming phone call or email enquiries directly from potential new clients. Another advantage of this approach is that it allows you to easily compare therapists in terms of their experience, specialist areas and session costs.
Take care however as this route also has a number of risks attached to it. The main area to consider in the UK when trying to find a therapist online is that for many areas of psychotherapy, there is very little statutory registration. What this means is that by law any body can call themselves a psychotherapist, regardless of any qualifications or experience they have. In effect, whilst someone may have a professional looking website or registration to a number of bodies, it can be very difficult to tell what type of training they have had, and whether the bodies they are registered with are of a substantial calibre or not.
Whilst many practitioners offering therapy services online have very good intentions in their work, simply by a lack of appropriate detail in their training or experience they may simply not have the depth of knowledge to recognise the subtleties to the problem areas you are experiencing – and may be ‘out of their depth’ without realising this. Within our clinic we have worked with a number of clients in the past that have approached us after seeking previous therapy that has either not helped them towards their therapy goals – or worse, in some cases increased their symptoms and distress.
One good way to help minimise this risk with your online search is to ask for the background of the specific therapist you have found. It is not unreasonable to ask for a CV or biography that includes previous posts they have held. Generally, if a therapist has either worked in a mental health academic environment – such as a university, or has practiced within the NHS you can be more sure of their credentials. Similarly, another good indicator when finding a therapist or clinic online is to check which private health insurance companies they are a recognised provider for. Even if you do not have a health insurance policy, by checking this you can be more sure that their background is likely to be suitable for offering you treatment as health insurers generally have high standards for clinicians in order to be recognised with them.
Find A Therapist Through A Register:
There are a number of directories and registers that can be a really helpful resource for finding a therapist. Many of these are held online, and so we would encourage you to follow the advice above when you are using a register or directory to find a therapist.
An important area to remember here is that some registers and directories are held by registering organisations – for example the British Association of Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapies (BABCP) hold a register of accredited Cognitive Behavioural Therapists, whereas many other directories or registers are actually held by private companies that charge therapists a listing fee to display their details.
Whether or not you are using an organisation register or directory with paid listings take care to understand whether you are being shown qualified practitioners within the type of therapy you are looking for – or simply a list of practitioners that have paid a listing fee and have some type of qualification, which may not always be the best one for your needs.
There are of course many other places that you can find a therapist. However, wherever you find one, be sure to check out the qualifications and registrations they hold. Currently in the UK there are a wide range of different types of therapy and accrediting organisations – as we mentioned, not all requiring the most rigorous standards of qualification or experience.
Once you have identified a therapist that you are interested in, why not give them a call? Whilst many therapists and clinics will allow you to book sessions online or by email (including our clinic), if you have found a therapist from research rather than recommendation by another professional, we would recommend calling by phone initially and asking for a brief conversation around the problem areas you are experiencing.
This will allow you to find out more about the Therapist’s knowledge of the areas and confidence in discussing these with you. Whilst they are unlikely to be able to give specific advice or recommendations from a brief phone call, it is reasonable that they should be able to give you a sense of the possible benefits of treatment they can offer – and also the possible risks of treatment with them.
As with all areas of medicine, psychology and healthcare it is unlikely that any therapist you have found has a ‘magic bullet’, so be aware of asking for any possible downsides to their treatment. A reasonable and experienced therapist will be able to explain these to you as easily and clearly as they can the possible treatment benefits.
Lastly, but certainly not least – as far as practically possible, try not to allow your efforts to find a therapist be reduced simply to finding the cheapest therapist you can. It is certainly possible to spend very little on therapy sessions, however a clear risk here is that they don’t necessarily have the skills and experience you need. For example, when searching for a Cognitive Behavioural Therapist online, you will often notice that session fees for BABCP accredited CBT Therapists are higher than for people offering counselling. This is usually because of the level of qualifications BABCP accredited therapists hold in comparisson.
If you need to find a Cognitive Behavioural Therapist, why not contact our clinic and see how we could help you?