The Right Therapist

Finding the right therapist isn’t as straight-forward as you might think. There are many factors to consider and you might find you feel differently over time or depending on the issue you want to bring. Below are a few pointers for you to consider to help you find the right therapist for you:

Ethics and Experience

Ethical practice is important. This means your therapist will always work professionally and in your best interest. Formal training (Diploma/Degree) in the counselling and psychotherapeutic field is a good indicator that the therapist has the knowledge and the ability to identify any risks that may arise. Professional registering bodies such as the Psychotherapy and Counselling Federation of Australia (PACFA) and their affiliated organisations require all members to have fulfilled certain requirements for levels of membership which reflect their training and experience as well as require all members to abide by their Code of Ethics.

I have a Diploma and Masters in Gestalt Psychotherapy certified by the Metanoia Institute and Middlesex University, London, UK. Metanoia is a highly respected training institute which has a strong focus on ethical practice. While in London I was a registered member of the UK Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP). While in Australia I am a registered member of  PACFA, and I have been on the Council as Chair of Membership and Professional Development for Gestalt Australia and New Zealand (GANZ) 2016-2017.

Please be aware that technically anyone could call themselves a counsellor, therapist or psychotherapist in Australia so it is important for you to check and confirm their qualifications/membership accreditation yourself.

Therapeutic Approach

There are many approaches in psychotherapy, some of which of the more common being Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), Person-Centered, Transactional Analysis (TA), and Gestalt.  A very simplistic description of those I’ve mentioned is:

  • CBT is a more typically medical style model, i.e. practiced by psychologists and used for very specific issues/symptom reduction, which incorporates psycho-education and action plans; and,
  • Person-Centered, TA and Gestalt are humanistic practices. Person-Centered therapists participate more as empathic listeners, TA interactions are described in a ‘parent, adult, child’ and uses a ‘transaction’ model, and Gestalt is a holistic approach that takes into account both body and mind. Gestalt can include collaborative experiential explorations – anything from something as simple as breathing, to the more widely referenced ’empty chair experiment’.right-therapist

It’s worth keeping in mind that despite the therapeutic approach, every therapist will have different styles and strengths. What is most important is how comfortable you feel with your therapist and that you feel listened to and respected. All approaches have worthwhile offerings and all registered psychotherapists will provide confidentiality, openness, respect, compassion and support.

My predominant training is as a Gestalt psychotherapist. It is an approach that I have a great passion for and offers much to my clients. My training ensures the proper application and understanding of Gestalt interventions.

Commitment and Cost

Benefit from therapy comes from weekly attendance.  You will likely want an open/on-going commitment with your therapist as you may be surprised at just how much actually comes up for discussion and how beneficial you will find therapy!  Given that therapy is a valued service, it is worth considering the on-going financial commitment as 6-12 sessions a year is rarely enough. Make sure you are aware of any cancellation costs as psychotherapists will request anything from a minimum of 24 hours’ notice up to a weeks’ notice if you’re unable to make a session.

Meeting Your Therapist

Your therapist will need to be someone you feel you can disclose your most personal thoughts and feelings to, so it’s worth having at least some sense of that when you meet face-to-face. Putting price, approach and availability aside, go with your sense of who you feel might be right for you, e.g. you may consider seeing a female therapist over a male therapist (or vice versa) – or prefer to attend therapy in a more relaxed setting as opposed to a room that feels like a corporate office.

On the rare occasion, a psychotherapist may decide that it may not be a match for their own personal or professional reasons which is part of ethical practice. This may happen if you are bringing something to therapy that the therapist has experienced too recently in their own life to be able to keep their experience separate from yours, or, if what you’re bringing is outside of the therapist’s skill set. If this is the case, they will generally refer you to someone they feel might be a better fit for you.

Changed Your Mind?

If you start therapy with someone and then feel like it’s not working out for whatever reason, do tell your therapist so you can discuss it. If you still feel it’s not right for you, it’s OK to change your mind about working with them.