Below are answers to some of the questions most frequently asked. If you do have any more of your own please contact me.
What type of therapy should I choose?
There are many different therapeutic approaches and it can be a minefield trying to navigate them when looking for a therapist. For example, a psychodynamic approach may focus more on early life and experience as a way to understand the now, whereas therapies such as CBT and Gestalt therapy are traditionally more focused on the here-and-now, on the basis that whatever is going on now is inherently informed by our past. Some people may find one more useful than the other but I believe most therapies are aimed at the same thing but from a slightly different angle. That is, for us to have greater awareness and understanding of ourselves – the thoughts, beliefs and patterns of behaviour that shape our experience.
Current research shows that the most important factor for successful therapy is the ‘therapeutic relationship’, i.e. how the client and therapist work together to bring about beneficial change. Therefore, choosing and working with a therapist that you feel comfortable with is likely to be of higher importance than what style they trained in. Having said that, training is important so in the next part I discuss qualifications, training and recognition by governing UK bodies.
How do I know if a therapist is suitably qualified?
The terms ‘counsellor’ and ‘psychotherapist’ are not protected titles in the UK which means that anyone could, in theory, call themselves either. However, there are two bodies in the UK who uphold standards for counsellors and psychotherapists and these are the BACP (British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy) and UKCP (UK Council for Psychotherapy) respectively. In order for practitioners to register with these bodies they need to have trained in either counselling or psychotherapy at an establishment that these bodies recognise as meeting their standards of quality so I strongly recommend choosing a therapist registered with one of these organisations.
What is the difference between a counsellor and psychotherapist?
Training for psychotherapists is longer than that of counsellors (generally four vs. two years) although this isn’t a guarantee that the former is better than the latter. Experience, insight, empathy, and further training are all important ‘ingredients’ and, as mentioned above, the way you and your therapist work together is paramount so finding a therapist that ‘gets you’ is really important.
What is the difference between short and long-term therapy?
Short-term therapy, also known as time-limited therapy or solution-focused therapy, usually focuses on finding strategies to manage or talk through a difficulty that is present in your life right now. Short-term therapy seeks to enhance awareness and find solutions to that present difficulty and generally consists of six to twelve sessions.
Longer-term therapy tends to view current issues as symptomatic of underlying issues stemming from patterns of behaviour and ways of relating. These are often unconscious or we may be cognisant of them but feel unable to bring about change. While short-term therapy may also view current issues the same way, the main difference is that short-term work will focus more on the symptoms whereas longer-term work aims to understand and address the underlying patterns of behaviour, coping strategies and relational ways of being that we learn in live and usually become an integral part of who we are.
How long are sessions and how often do I need to come?
Sessions are weekly and are a ‘therapeutic hour’ which is 50 minutes. Regardless of whether you attend short or long-term therapy, regularity is really important to get the most out of therapy so committing to weekly sessions is an essential part of the therapeutic process.