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Searching for a Therapist.
It’s an unfortunate truth with UK law that, presently, anyone can set themselves up and describe themselves as a “therapist” or a “counsellor”. They are not legally required to have to have any formal training, any qualifications, any experience, any insurance, nor do they need to be a member of a professional body that oversees & regulates their therapy practice.
People like these exist – some look quite legitimate – and they can make finding a properly-suitable therapist quite dangerous for the layman.
However, when you know what to look out for, professionally qualified therapists can be easily recognised.
Even if you are still unsure that a therapist/counsellor you’ve found is legitimate or not, the following questions put to the therapist will help you decide. Do not be afraid to ask your potential therapist to proove their legitimacy!
Vetting Questions to ask a Potential Therapist.
Any of these questions would be appropriate to put to a therapist (private, NHS, charitable, spiritual, religious etc) during the first interview.
- What are your formal qualifications to practice as a therapist – or are you still in training?
- Who awarded you your qualification? (Check that the awarding body is also a suitable member of a recognised professional body) -or- who is overseeing your practice whilst in training?
- If you have no formal qualifications, and are not in training, what is your rationale for offering me therapy?
- What professional bodies are you a member of … and what is your membership number?
- If you are not a member of a professional body, what are the circumstances around this? Was it your decision not to be a member?
- Does your professional have different levels of membership (e.g. member, accredited member, senior accredited member) – and, if so, what level of membership have you attained? Are you aware of the next level, and are you working towards it? If you are not working to the next level, what is your rationale?
- How do you regularly ensure that are practising to your best (e.g. do you attend regular supervision, or are a member of a group supervision group)?
- When was your last training course or self-directed learning (continued professional development/CPD)? (Check that the therapist stays up to date with current learning).
- Do you have indemnity insurance – and who is it with? How does your insurance protect me as a potential client of yours?
- (If appropriate…) … having learned of my/our needs for therapy, what will be your treatment plan for me/us?
- Is your treatment suitable for my needs?
- Have you offered this treatment before?
Trust your Instincts with the Answers.
How do you feel with the therapist’s responses to your questions? Were the answers given freely? Some therapists – later on in the therapy – will not immediately answer questions, preferring to investigate the nature of the question first (psychodynamic/psychoanalytic is a legitimate model of therapy, albeit different from other models), so it might be best to bare the therapist’s response with this in mind.
How does the therapist appear to you? Does the therapist’s website and marketing material give the appearance of professionalism? For example, does the website look healthily maintained, or is it a bit out-of-date/bedraggled? Do the marketing materials look professionally produced, or kind of written on craps of paper in crayon?
Services such as VistaPrint can give a professional appearance to anyone in return for some money – but these services also produce rubber-stamp images (i.e. the choices of branding can be used by anyone, over and over again). Looking professional is a good indicator of the professionalism of the therapist, but on its own it’s not an indication of the therapist’s qualifications, practice or experience.
In addition with the above questions information, if you meet with the therapist consider the following:-
- Do you have a feeling that the therapist is someone you want to work with? If not, don’t … and find someone else.
- Does the therapist at least attempt to answer the questions helpfully, or evasively?
- Do you know of anyone who has previously seen this therapist for treatment?
Bear in mind that there is no legal requirement for any of the above considerations to be set in place, so you are responsible to protecting your own well-being.
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