I wanted to do a blog post about this as mental health and mindset is being talked about more than ever before as people are increasingly seeking help. This is a huge leap in the right direction as we all, as a society, need to talk more openly to reduce stigma and enable people to get the support they need. However there is a down side to the therapy business and this article will hopefully clarify and inform so you can make the right choices for yourself should you ever consider seeking help in the industry.
According to MIND.org “Approximately 1 in 4 people in the UK will experience a mental health problem each year and in England, 1 in 6 people report experiencing a common mental health problem (such as anxiety and depression) in any given week. Worries about things like money, jobs and benefits can make it harder for people to cope and it appears that how people cope with mental health problems is getting worse as the number of people who self-harm or have suicidal thoughts is increasing.”
Usually the first port of call for anyone seeking help and support in the UK is the psychological services via the NHS, yet the waiting times for therapy are increasingly alarming with many waiting years to be seen. A report published by 5 leading UK mental health charities about the experiences of waiting for and receiving psychological therapies on the NHS is available at The Mental Health Foundation website. It says that the lives of those stuck on long NHS waiting lists for psychological treatments are being damaged as a result. Mental health problems can worsen, relationships can break down and some people are forced to take time off from work - or give up a job completely. For further information about the report go to https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/publications/while-we-are-waiting
Private therapy seems to be the only option if you want to be seen quickly and start treatment as soon as possible, but at prices around £70-125 per session, it’s fair to say one needs some assurances that both therapist and therapy are going to help and not hinder.There has to be some benefit or it’s simply pointless right?
Here’s my experience…When I was younger I was referred to an NHS Counsellor as I had been through a stressful time and wasn’t coping very well. Not only did I have to wait months to see one but after multiple sessions I didn’t feel it benefited me in any way as it seemed to be just a space for me to offload with no guidance as to how I could move forward, so I terminated the treatment plan. Now, I’m not saying all counsellors are not good. For some simply talking to someone is sufficient and I have no doubt there are some wonderful counsellors out there who can offer much more than just a listening ear. Some years later following the breakdown of my marriage I decided to try a private hypnotherapy session which I also found to be a waste of time and money as I didn’t feel any benefit whatsoever and so I didn’t return for further sessions. Some time later I was recommended a Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) Coach/Hypnotherapist by a friend and rather skeptically I decided to take a look. Due to my previous experiences I proceeded with caution and began reading all the information available on their website, checked out their reviews and recommendations, checked they were registered with professional bodies and noticed that they offered a free consultation which would explore how they could help me and what treatments would be best suited to my needs. This was more than I was offered previously and so I decided to make an appointment. This proved to be the best thing I ever did as not only did the treatment transform my life but I then decided to train in the same therapy so I can help others too.
What makes a good therapist then and how do you find one? There are good and bad in every industry and it’s true there have been countless therapists, doctors and psychologists struck off due to their unethical behaviour and bad choices. Over the years I have been horrified at stories of so called professionals who have abused their position of trust and harmed rather than healed individuals seeking help. So, to answer the question let’s look at what a good therapist is and is not
A good therapist is not out to simply make money. It’s a vocation and whilst a good therapist is worth every penny, look to see if they offer value by giving information and resources free of charge. Do they offer free consultations so you can make an informed decision about whether you will benefit from the treatments on offer? Do they offer valuable tools and techniques for you to use between sessions? Do they answer your questions thoroughly or are they rushing you out of the door?
A good therapist will have real, verifiable reviews, recommendations and testimonials. Look them up on Google, social media or their website so you can read reviews and ratings. Don’t be frightened of contacting individuals who have reviewed or recommended a therapist for direct feedback. I’m sure most people wouldn’t mind verifying their public testimonial.
A good therapist will be a member of a professional body or bodies and be fully insured. In the UK there are a number of professional bodies with strict criteria for membership such as www.bacp.co.uk or www.accph.org.uk. There are others of course and a simple online search will reveal more governing bodies in the field you require. Insurance is vital and this information should be available should you request it.
A good therapist will have accredited training, up-to-date supervision and cpd (continued professional development) hours. To be a good therapist takes years of learning and continued development. There are many cheap online courses with no supervision however a good therapist will have undertaken supervised practise as well as assessed learning. Don’t be afraid to ask what their credentials are.
A good therapist would never abuse their position and ask you to do something that is unethical or detrimental to your well being. You should never feel threatened or unsafe whilst undergoing therapy. Trust is the cornerstone to the therapy relationship and this should never be abused in any way. Nor should a therapist make any romantic advances or gestures as this is a breach of professional conduct.
The most important thing to remember is not to be afraid to seek help should you need it. Thankfully most therapists operate professionally and ethically. Do your homework, shop around, talk to people and don’t be afraid to ask questions.