Contemplating starting therapy can be an overwhelming prospect. The reason you’re likely thinking about it is because you’re struggling with some areas in your life. You may be apprehensive disclosing your inner most thoughts and feelings to someone you’ve never met before. If you search for a counsellor right now, you’ll see that there is an abundance out there, encompassing a wide range of therapeutic approaches. As if what you were struggling with wasn’t overwhelming enough!
These are all understandable fears. It is important to recognise that whomever you choose to see, you have autonomy. Many therapists offer an initial chat free of charge, to listen and see if they feel they could be ‘a good fit’ with you. This initial chat is an opportunity for you to ask any questions you have about their approach, their experience, and to check that they are registered with a professional body, such as the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP).
I am an Integrative-Relational therapist and simply put, this means that rather than subscribing to one school of thought, I draw upon various approaches that best serve the individual client. Relational therapy acknowledges that we are relational beings; our well-being is greatly influenced by the quality of our connections with others however much of our suffering comes from our experience of these connections too, and beyond this, our relationships.
Whilst I have valued relational therapy personally and professionally, this is by no means the only route. There is an array of different approaches out there: Humanistic therapy, is an umbrella term that covers various types of therapy, including: Person-Centered therapy, Gestalt therapy and Transactional analysis. This type of therapy encompasses free will and self-actualisation. Psychoanalysis, a type of therapy based on the work of Sigmund Freud, is less focused on the person as a whole and believes that psychological issues are rooted in the unconscious mind. Evidence and solution-based therapies such as Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) can be very helpful when working with core negative thoughts and beliefs, whilst in Psychodynamic Therapy, the therapist invites the client to explore the ways in which their early experiences drive emotions and actions. Other third-wave therapies have evolved out of some of the more established approaches I’ve listed: Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), Mindfulness based cognitive therapy (MBCT) and Compassion focused therapy (CFT). A commonality among these three approaches is the emphasis on mindfulness.
Whichever therapist/therapeutic approach you decide to go with, remember what works for you may not work for others and vice versa. This notion can itself be very empowering and healing – going where you need to go, working with someone that you connect with, enabling you to ask and answer your own questions. Think about this: if you have a specific physical ailment, it’s likely you would want to see someone who specialises in this area(s). This is no different when it comes to psychotherapy. Although psychotherapy is not regulated in the UK, it is important that your therapist is a registered member of a professional association like the BACP. This can help give you peace of mind that your therapist is working in line with the associations' ethical framework and should an issue ever arise in your therapy, you can be supported.
Often the first step towards healing can be stepping into the therapy room. Sitting opposite a compassionate other who has unconditional positive regard for you and can help facilitate change. Starting therapy is in no way a sign of weakness but rather an incredibly courageous gift to yourself. Courage isn’t just a feeling but rather a decision to act. If you’re looking for a new therapist, get in touch and we'd be happy to talk through how we work and whether that is likely to work for you.