Counselling in Cheshire - providing a service for Knutsford, Northwich, Tarpoley and Crewe

Finding the Right Therapist.

Published: Oct 25, 02:18 pm

There are a plethora of therapies to choose from out there these days which can be confusing for those who may be deciding to embark on therapy for the first time.

As a therapist myself there have been occasions when a referred client has, early on, realized that what I have to offer may not suit them at which point I may refer them on (if possible) to another therapist who may be more suitable.

To ensure the right ‘fit’ at the outset, prospective clients may have consulted my website beforehand which has a section ‘Treatments’ informing them of my integrative approach which helps the person to decide whether to go ahead with me or not. I also provide prospective clients with an informed consent ‘informing’ them of what to expect should they choose to start therapy with me. Further options to orientate interested clients include a free intro telephone or video call prior to decision making.

The challenge arises however – ‘how do I know what kind of therapy would suit me?’ Here are some questions you might ask yourself: -

1/ Am I looking predominantly for symptom relief or is there a need for a more explorative approach? Symptom relief focuses on eliminating dysfunctional patterns of behaviours whether in one’s actions or thought/emotional life. For example, ‘I keep getting stuck in romantic relationships where I play the subservient role, never able to assert my needs, always catering to the needs of the other person. What am I doing or thinking that is wrong?’ How can I change those patterns?

Or do I want something more explorative? Do I have a need to review and understand my past and to see how that unique past has shaped and influenced my current behaviours, as in the example given above?

2/ Someone has experienced trauma as a child or perhaps serving in the military or maybe in the workplace. They experience symptoms such as hyperarousal, avoidance, guilt, dissociative episodes. A friend suggests they may have PTSD. There is a need for help from someone whom they can trust. Who is there that is able to understand their profound sense of alienation from everyone and everything, a need for a sense of safety.

3/ I’m a creative individual and have derived a lot of therapeutic benefit from expressing myself through art/music/dance/drama. I have this psychological problem however that keeps rearing its head and I feel I’ll need some professional help if I’m eventually to overcome this recurring issue. What kind of therapy would help me?

4/ I have a problem forgiving myself. I’ve surfed the internet for possible interventions that may help, but the number of interventions are daunting and I can’t really tell the difference between all of those acronyms – CBT, DBT, CFT, CAT etc….

Addressing each of the points above: -

1/ The difference between symptom relief and a more explorative approach? This can certainly influence your choice of intervention. Therapists who are able to offer a ‘psychodynamic’ approach favour a more explorative journey, helping clients to process past hurts and unresolved conflicts.

CBT, however (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) offers a more symptom focused approach, and helps individuals tackle the current presenting problems whatever they may be. CBT is particularly effective in addressing conditions such as OCD (Obsessional Compulsive Disorder), Panic Attacks (part of the wider problem of an anxiety disorder), Depression and PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder).

2/ Trauma, or more specifically PTSD, as mentioned above, responds well to a CBT intervention. For example, as part of the intervention, exposure to the triggers associated with past trauma can be a part of the program (i.e., often referred to as ‘graduated exposure’), an approach that helps to reduce adverse responses to cues/stimuli in the environment – be that in a crowded shopping centre or coping with the sound of fireworks around the time of bonfire night.

On the other hand, if a person feels that a more explorative approach would be more appropriate (for example in order to address problems of a more interpersonal nature) Psychodynamic Psychotherapy, Art Therapy or Schema Therapy could be the best intervention.

3/ If you are a creative individual (I’m thinking here along the lines of the expressive arts – music, art, dance, drama etc.), then a therapeutic approach that engages a person at that level may be the order of the day. Art therapy, Drama Therapy, Dance Therapy, Music Therapy, these are a few approaches that people can avail themselves of (i.e., provided by professionally registered therapists). Therapists can also be found that use other expressive techniques such as Poetry, Bibliotherapy and Sand Tray Therapy. Expressive therapies can focus particularly on engaging the right side hemisphere of the brain, tapping an awareness that is ‘bottom up’ i.e., sensory motor, nonverbal.

4/ Hopefully this brief guide I’ve provided goes some way to helping individuals in their ability to choose the right kind of psychological therapeutic help. As point 4 above shows, the number of therapies on offer can be bewildering, and having to research what is out there can be a stressful enterprise, especially if you are finding it difficult to function. Below are some useful links: –