(Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash)
I don't know what you think, but finding the right therapist as a client seems to me like quite a difficult choice to make. There are so many different psychotherapy services in London, so many different kinds of therapy and so much difference in each therapist's individual style.
Here are a few points that I wish I had known in the past.
What do you need from them?
This would be the first point. Do you have any specific requirements. Is the gender identity of the therapist important? Do you have any preferences in terms of location, time of day, what fee range would be affordable for you?
More broadly what kind of therapist do you feel you might like? Someone that is great at listening and that gives you a lot of space? Someone more interactive that would reply to your questions? Are you the kind of person that enjoys structure and having a clear plan? How much flexibility do you need?
It is OK to have an initial conversation with a potential therapist and to ask as many questions as necessary and to get a feel for how they work.
Different psychotherapy approaches
Broadly speaking an integrative psychotherapist, like myself, is trained in using different approaches depending on the needs of the client so choosing an integrative approach might mean not being wedded to just one model.
Speaking very generally, psychodynamic therapy is great at analysing unconscious communication and re-enactments from the past in the therapy room. Humanistic therapy, including Gestalt, makes great use of creativity with a focus on integrating different aspects of the person. Transpersonal psychotherapy is great at working with dreams and qualities and views creative imagination as a key to unlocking a person's true potential. Existential psychotherapy is very useful to confront issues related to our shared human experience, such as in the case of loneliness and death. But this is not an exhaustive list.
Do you need a trauma informed therapist?
Most approaches deal with trauma in some way but if you have experienced trauma it might be worth looking for trauma therapy with someone that is trauma informed.
By trauma we now mean not just instances of being a victim of violence, witnessing violence, any kind of abuse growing up, natural disasters and accidents but also more everyday traumas when growing up like neglect, being bullied, losses, divorce, fights in the family, a parent being unavailable through illness or a family member having an addiction. Some people call this complex trauma or developmental or attachment trauma. It affects a lot of people.
It might be worth asking a future therapist how they would work with this and if they have done additional training around it. I have personally done some training on using an integrative model for working with complex trauma through ego-state therapy with Mary-Clare de Echevarria and I am very influenced in my work by the literature on Polyvagal Theory, Internal Family Systems, Janina Fisher's parts work and body therapies such as Sensorimotor Psychotherapy.
EMDR or Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing is another excellent modality that I have had the opportunity to experience in my own therapy that is incredibly effective for treating some traumas. Although I don't currently offer this in my practice I plan to do some additional training on this in the near future.
When money is an issue
London is an expensive city and on top of that the costs of psychotherapy training, supervision and room rental can drive up the cost of private psychotherapy. However, it is always worth getting in touch with a potential therapist to ask about their fees. Even in the case that it is not possible to reach an agreement they might be able to suggest some alternative options for qualified therapists or trainees that could work within your budget.
What feeling do you get being with them
And lastly, trust your gut feeling. What does it feel like to talk to them? Do you feel safe, listened to? Or does something not feel quite right. There are many different people and many different therapists and it is very important that you find the right fit.
If you would like to get in touch to book a session with me click here to contact me.