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Finding the right therapist

Updated: Aug 25, 2022

It really can be as simple as finding the right fit for you; but how?

If you think of counselling as an ongoing conversation where you bare your soul, open up Pandora's box, stare into the abyss, let someone in to that sacred space within; that level of trust can be daunting.

I like to work within the concept of 'relational depth', a form of encounter in which both counsellor and client experience feelings of connection and trust in each other. When two people come together in a totally genuine, open and engaged way, it can be said that they are both fully present. It starts with me. When I share myself openly and honestly, and create a safe environment for my client to do the same, I make it more possible for them relax into the process and bring whatever they need to bring to the session. And that is when the magic happens.

"The energy that is created between people, when they feel seen, heard and valued. When they can give and receive without judgement" Brené Brown, The Gifts of Imperfection

But how can I know if I will be able to work at relational depth with a client? And how can they know if they will get to that point with me? The truth is, it doesn't always happen. It can be encouraged, it can be nurtured, but it is not guaranteed. And it is not always evident in the early sessions. You can sometimes get a sense of the possibility, during early conversations, including with that very first conversation. And that sense of possibility is what you are looking for. Ask a potential counsellor if they do an introductory session, most will be willing to have a phone conversation of reasonable duration, some will offer a reduced cost or concessionary first session. Of course, it's important to make the initial selection by checking credentials, for example, are they fully qualified, and ideally registered or BACP accredited, and do they work within the ethical guidelines of a reputable organisation such as the BACP, or other professional body? Once you have found your shortlist of candidates, how do you find the one?

For me, it's about connection. If I can sense in that initial conversation that there is the possibility of making a good connection, the likelihood is that I can build a relationship and come to trust fully in it. So trust your gut. You may not immediately feel that you can open up and trust the counsellor, but tune into those gut feelings, and you should hopefully get a sense of the possibility. Do you get a sense of warmth from the counsellor? Do you feel you may come to trust them and will be able to open up? Do you feel that they will listen without judgement or bias? Don't be afraid to challenge them. If there is something that you worry you will feel judged for; if you feel you can, mention it. The likelihood is that all you will receive in return is a lack of judgement, a reassurance that you can bring anything to the conversation and that the counsellor can see you as separate to your actions/choices/behaviours.

What if your initial impression is positive and you decide to start to work with a counsellor, but after a couple of sessions, you feel that the connection has not developed? Try talking to your counsellor about it, they may feel the same way and might have a suggestion to move things forward. An ethical and experienced counsellor will welcome honest feedback and will be invested in developing a good therapeutic connection. Perhaps they may even agree that a connection is not developing and you might mutually agree that you move on. The truth is, what may suit one person may not suit another, it's the same with other relationships, yes, of course they need a chance to develop, but sometimes the chemistry is simply not there and the brave decision might be to move on. If you have been brave enough to try counselling, you deserve a counselling relationship built on honesty, trust and mutual respect, and you owe it to yourself to find a counsellor who values connection, works at relational depth, and provides an environment that allows you to be yourself, warts and all.

If you are considering counselling and live in Alderley Edge, Poynton, Wilmslow or anywhere in easy travel distance of Macclesfield, please get in touch, I would be happy to have an initial meeting with you, to talk you through my services (individual counselling sessions, CBT and personal coaching), answer your questions about counselling and therapy in general, and give you an opportunity to get a feel for how we could work together. If you live further away, I work remotely and would be happy to set up an initial telephone call or Zoom meeting, for the same purpose. Many other counsellors will offer the same. It really is just about finding the right fit for you, and that starts with a first conversation....

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