I was recently saddened by a comment made by the Duke and Duchess of Sussex's post ''If you’re home and feeling bored, during the ongoing coronavirus crisis doing short online training courses to become a counsellor' These comments are dangerous and have the potential to cause harm
In the UK counsellors are not under statutory regulations meaning there are no laws to prevent people without skills and training calling themselves counsellors. Many online courses can be used to fool people into thinking when these are completed they can work with people who are feeling particularly vulnerable.
Therapists/Counsellors adhere to high ethical and practice standards to ensure they help their clients to improve their psychological wellbeing
1) Do your research
Check any therapists/counsellors you've come across are a Registered member of an awarding body. You may have noticed a few logos BACP and ACTO who are the awarding bodies I belong too. The BACP and ACTO have registers you can use to check this out. It can provide reassure and comfort that you are in safe hands.
2) Ask questions about qualifications
In the UK a counsellor should have gained a degree or at a minimum, a level 4 diploma.
3) Ask about the length of the training and what it entailed
If the 'therapist/counsellor' was able to gain their qualification within 10 minutes it is not enough. Most reputable courses have minimum requirements and standards to meet before achieving the qualification. I had therapy myself for almost 2 years (the length of my training) to make sure I had processed anything going on for me. I also had to complete 100 client hours for my diploma course.
4) Check they have regular supervision
This is really important and forms part of ensuring clients the best possible care and support, that counsellors are working in the best interest of those they work with.
All therapists/counsellors should have monthly supervision with a qualified supervisor to make sure that they are working ethically.
5) Are they working within their competency level?
When people decide they are going to access counselling it can be for a range of reasons, bereavement or self-harm for example. You might want to find out about any additional training or experience they have in any areas they could be connected to what is bothering you.
All therapists/ counsellors should be committed to developing their skills and knowledge, Many awarding bodies state a minimum number of hours continued professional development they are required to complete each year.
If they don't have experience or training in an area that you are struggling with it does not mean they won't be able to support you but allows you to decide what feels right for you and make an informed decision.
6) Find out how they work.
I work face to face offering a confidential, safe environment as well as working online via webcam or telephone
There is no need to decide on one rigid approach or way of working, it is about meeting your needs so if life demands get in the way of you attending face to face, if you feeling unwell, like you could do without travelling then we could combine the two
I work short term and on an open-ended basis.
7) Don't feel pressured to make a decision right away
The decision to seek counselling can feel scary and unsettling, Finding a therapist/ counsellor that is the right match for you is really important.
It is, for this reason, I offer a free 20 - minute consultation over the telephone to give you the chance to answer any questions you might have. It gives both of us a chance to get to know each other better. A quick chat over the phone means you can see whether you feel a natural 'click'.
Don't feel pressured to decide right away take as much time as you need. Take the time to speak to at least 2 - 3 therapists initially so you have a good point of comparison to work with and who you feel most comfortable with.
8) Trust your instinct
Research has shown that taking note of your gut feeling and what feels right for you is paramount. There’s no hard and fast rule when it comes to defining a connection. Sometimes it’s there, other times it's not, so trust your gut as much as you can
The relationship between you and the therapist/counsellor influences the success and outcomes of the process.
The relationship with your therapist /counsellor needs to be based on trust. It's important you feel comfortable sharing time and space with them each week. It also means feeling comfortable enough to tackle the painful stuff too.
In my view it's a privilege when someone chooses me as their therapist, trusting me during those times they are feeling immense personal pain.
9) Read your contract
The contract between you and the therapist/counsellor sets out important aspects such as confidentiality, privacy policies and what happens if you can’t make a session. Make sure you read this carefully and ask any questions that you need to in order to feel comfortable going forward.
1O) Be wary of therapists/ counsellors that offer too many reassurances or guarantees
There are no guarantees with counselling! You should discuss goals and your counsellor will explore with you your hopes and where you would like to get too. One of the questions I ask in the assessment looks at this, something to consider from the outset, however, these may change throughout the process but no one can offer you a guaranteed outcome.
You may not feel you need to ask all of these questions, there are no set rules but the most important thing is that you feel that you can. Remember that there is never any obligation to continue with a counsellor, if at any point you feel unsafe or uncertain you can bring it to an end. You should feel empowered and able to take charge.
1) Do I need lots of money for counselling?
Therapy can and sometimes does take time, this though is not always the case. I believe people are unique and individual, no two people are the same and so neither will their journey in therapy. You may be saying to yourself I know [.....] he/ she has been in therapy for what feels like forever.This may be so for them.
It may not be the same for you,it is important to think about what you would like to achieve? what your goals are? what is the challenge/ difficulty that has brought you to my website right now?. If you have answers on the tip of your tongue, hold them, this is the type of discussion we will have if you decide to have a free 20-minute consultation with me and within our first session if we decide we can work together
For some, a series of short term session, between 8 and 15 sessions is all that is needed for goals which have been set for therapy to be achieved. Others may feel their goals are more complex and so require being accompanied on their journey for months or more. Remember you know yourself better than anyone else, you are the expert on yourself, you have the choice to choose how long you are in therapy for if for any reason you felt was not for you, you have the option to end therapy
I’d like to think that I am a good enough therapist, one who invests my time in helping you to cope/ manage life's challenges more effectively, by this I mean supporting you in developing your own ‘toolkit’ allowing you to choose the most suitable tool to help you cope at any given time. Hopefully, this will mean that at the end of your journey in therapy you will no longer need me to accompany you, being more independently, taking your toolkit with you.
2) Why can't I sort my problems out?
When trying to work through our problems alone it is all too easy for us to get ‘stuck’ in our head finding ourselves going over and over them. We might get caught up in believing keeping everything to ourselves makes us strong. It could be that you feel you can't get support from your family because you don't want to upset or burden them with things that are going on for you.
You may be saying people have no idea about how hard im working ‘im like a duck on the calm on the surface, moving along the water without much effort but paddling like hell underneath
Sometimes it can be helpful to speak to someone like a therapist who is not involved in your situation. It can allow you to speak about anything that is bothering you without fear of upsetting, offending anyone, you can share in a safe place knowing that what you may share will not become the topic of conversation if someone innocently tells someone else what you are going through. If any of this describe anything like what is going on for you right now,
As a therapist i am trained to help you discover your ‘blind spots’ things you are not aware of, therapy can help you to become more aware of things that are hidden which can help you to see things from a different perspective
All therapy sessions are unique tailored to meet your individual needs, interested in your personal experience
3) Is counselling for crisis?
Those who are in crisis when they have been struggling for some time to face challenging on their own, feeling as if they are no longer able to cope. However this is not always the reason people enter into therapy. Some people realise they are ‘ trapped in a cycle of negative thoughts which are holding them back from moving forward in life, others feel they need support with relationships as they feel things are going wrong. Whilst for others might want to feel better about themselves. The list is endless when we think about the challenges that life can throw at us. In my opinion talking through them with someone is a positive step to take
4) Does counselling mean I'm weak?
All too often we think that being strong is about not being affected by challenges situations in life. People can become very good at using ‘facades’. In simple terms this means showing on the outside a particular emotion or behaviour as a way of ‘ hiding’ what they are feeling on the inside.
It can take enormous amounts of strength to recognise that this right now is taking up too much effort and to make the decision to let someone in to accompany you in facing these challenges. This could not only allow you the potential to feel freer, to be the real you but also think about how you might about to use all of that extra energy
5) Will counselling give me answers?
You don't have any solutions to your problems yet! When we are faced with those times when we are struggling to cope, when life isn't moving in the direction we hoped it would our friends and family may notice and offer some advice. These people know and care about us so want to help. They often come to us with suggestions of what they feel might be best for us. If you find yourself nodding as you are reading this but find yourself saying their advice isn't working for me. I would imagine that all suggestions are well - intended
Family and friends, having people to talk to can be really positive for our well being, having said this what works for one person may not work for another, this may be because our experience of a situation are different.
As a therapist, I do not feel I am in a position to offer you advice, I may occasionally offer you information if I feel it will be of benefit to you. I trust that you have resources within yourself to find solutions to any difficulties you may be facing. You know yourself better than anyone else. I see my role as one in which I encourage you to explore what is bothering you. In the hope that you will have a clearer view of your situation, meaning you can then decide what is best, sometimes we may need help to discover this.
As a therapist I have supported people a range of difficulties, some face challenges in being able to talk about to openly speak about what they need too. A blog can allow you space to read around a topic,offer additional support when you need you. I enjoy the process of seeing client grow and develop as they make changes to their journey, begin to take a different path despite not being entirely sure about where they are going or even where they may end up.
The purpose of blogging for me is to connect with you, to provide additional support on various topics. I want this to be a place you come to when uncertainty arises or on those occasions you may be looking for some reassurance. I want to connect with you and understand the difficulties you are facing. It is important that this is a supportive environment, promoting your abilities to use intuition, reasoning and creativity trusting in the way you view the world believing in your dignity and worth
My approach to blogging is going to be similar to that if you were to choose me as your therapist by this I mean I want you to take charge. If you'd like to see a particular topic covered let me know and I'll do my best to cover it.