There are thousands of therapists... hundreds of techniques and many different types of therapies... - Shapiro, F. 2004
What is counselling or psychotherapy?
Psychological therapy takes place in a relationship between the client who may be in a state of distress or emotional turmoil and the therapist whose goal is to help the client to achieve peace of mind or reduction or cessation of the distress they came to therapy to alleviate. There are an ever-increasing number of different types of treatment—several hundreds at the present time—and thousands of therapists, each trained in one or more of the different types of therapy. The therapists themselves have different levels of academic achievement varying from Level 3 (equivalent to A level) to Level 8 (equivalent to PhD). In the face of all these competing possibilities how do you choose the right therapist for you?
Not all therapists are the same.
A recent study of 119 therapists treating 10,800 clients showed 19 (16%) to be poor, achieving recover rates in the order of 50% and 79 (66%) to be average, achieving recovery rates in the order of 58%, with only 21 out of the 119 therapists, (18%) helping more than 75% of their clients to recover.
So how do you recognise a "good" therapist?
Research has shown that the benefit a client obtains from psychological therapy doesn't depend on the type of therapy offered, nor on the level of academic achievement of the therapist, nor the experience of the therapist, nor the age or gender of the therapist, but on the "facilitative interpersonal skills" possessed by the individual therapist her- or himself.
The qualities which are thought to make up a therapist's facilitative interpersonal skills are:
1. verbal fluency
2. hope for, and positive expectations for the client's recovery
4. emotional expression
5. warmth, acceptance, and understanding
7. alliance bond capacity
8. alliance rupture-repair responsiveness
How should you choose your therapist
If you are choosing a therapist, you need to keep in mind that the quality of the relationship you have with your therapist has an important bearing on the outcome of your therapy. The likely speed and extent of your recovery depends on the warmth you feel for, and from, your therapist. You should select one you feel comfortable with. One by whom you feel valued, who believes in you and expects you to get better. Who is warm and understands what it feels like to be you. If you aren't comfortable, valued, and understood, this will block the formation of a therapeutic alliance which is essential if you are to have a successful outcome from therapy. Discuss your feelings with the therapist and listen to her or his response. You are always free to leave at any point and make an appointment with another therapist. Keep in mind that the speed and depth of your recovery depends on your relationship with your therapist and you owe it to yourself and to your loved ones to select a person who is best for you.