How do I choose the right psychologist, psychotherapist or counsellor?
Finding a professional to see for therapy can be a very daunting experience. There are many websites advertising people offering therapy services and in any given area there will be at least a handful of psychologists, psychotherapists or counsellors. So how do you choose the right person? The titles ‘Psychotherapist’ and ‘Counsellor’ are often used interchangeably. There are several different training routes an individual can take in order to advertise themselves as a psychotherapist or counsellor and they can train to work with individuals, couples or families and in different models such as CBT or psychoanalytic therapy. It is important to talk to the therapist about what they offer to make sure this is the kind of therapy that will fit well with you. An important note is that the titles ‘psychotherapist’ and ‘counsellor’ are not legally protected and therefore can be used by anyone no matter how little training they have completed. It is essential to check the professional's credentials to ensure they registered with a professional body and fully qualified to practice.
Finding a psychologist is usually easier as the title ‘psychologist’ is legally protected and therefore one cannot use the title without having completed the required training and being registered with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) as well as preferably with the British Psychological Society (BPS). In order to gain registration with these professional bodies the individual needs to complete a Doctoral (or equivalent) degree in Clinical or Counselling psychology. This usually entails a minimum of 6 years of training in working with individuals, couples and families using a variety of models such as CBT, Psychodynamic psychotherapy, Systemic therapy, Interpersonal therapy to name a few. Clinical Psychologists also train in administering assessments such as cognitive assessments, personality assessments, forensic assessments and in research and service design and delivery.
Once deciding on the professional you would like to see, it is important to have an initial assessment session where you can talk about difficulties you are facing and get an idea of what the therapist can offer. It is important that you have a good client-therapist fit and that you feel comfortable with the individual as this will allow for a more open and productive therapy process. back to top