With mental health therapy referrals on the rise, how do you find the right therapist?
University of Roehampton expert shares his top tips
In the UK, one in four people experience mental health problems each year according to mental health charity Mind* and figures from the NHS show that almost 1.60 million people were referred to therapy in the past year, a rise of over 11% since 2017-2018**. This means that it’s likely that either you or one of your family and friends will be looking for a therapist at some point in their life. However, finding the right therapist for your needs can be a daunting process for many. Mick Cooper, Professor of Counselling Psychology from the University of Roehampton, provides the following tips to help find the right therapist for you:
- Talk to your GP: “Your GP can help you to work out which course of treatment will be most useful for you and whether therapy is the right course of action. They may also be able to help you access a range of free psychological therapies, and support for the most severe psychological problems.”
- Time to go private?: “Although the NHS is a great place to start your journey, you may feel that you have exhausted all they have to offer or you might want a long term therapy. Most doctors can only help you access short-term therapies. Private therapists are an alternative option if you can afford it. They can be expensive, with prices starting from £30 to £75 and upwards per session. However, you may consider this an investment to your overall health and fulfilled life. In addition to the NHS, free of charge services may also be available and offered by local charities, so if money is a hurdle, it may be one you can overcome.”
- Directories: “Online directories such as the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy and the UK Council for Psychotherapy can be a good place to search for a private therapist who may be right for you. Start by searching for therapists in your local area and you can also look for those who are experts in specific subjects and issues to better fit your needs. If you’d prefer to not see a therapist in person, or don’t have much time to attend a face-to-face session, some therapists are also available virtually.”
- The type of therapy: “Not everyone is suited to the same type of therapy, what is helpful to one person, may not be to someone else. There are many types of therapies available, from Cognitive Behavioural Therapy or CBT (a relatively directive approach that helps change irrational thoughts and behaviours into healthier ideas and actions), to a person-centred one (an approach that focuses on providing patients space to talk through problems at their own pace, in an empathic and valuing environment). There is also the Psychodynamic approach (oriented to helping patients’ unconscious thoughts by looking at how the past affects current relationships) and the Integrative one (which uses a range of methods from different therapies, depending on the patient). The choices can be bewildering. At the University of Roehampton, we have developed an online tool – the C-NIP tool – which helps people to discover their preferences for therapy. By filling in a short survey, which looks at your preferences for how you’d like the therapist to work with you – for example whether you would prefer a more or less directive approach – the tool can help to identify the kind of therapy you might prefer. The results can then be used in an initial assessment or early session in psychotherapy or counselling to facilitate a dialogue with your therapist on how best to deliver the treatment. Free to use, it can be found on the website www.c-nip.net. ”
- Phone a friend: “Last, but not least, as the saying goes ‘a problem shared is a problem halved’, so having a conversation with your family and trusted friends about your mental health may help to relieve some of your worries. Of course this can be difficult given the sensitivity of the subject, but you might be surprised to find that many people are going through the same things as you – after all, one in four people in the UK experiences mental health problems*. A friend or family member may have a recommendation which will help you to find a trustworthy therapist, so it is always a good idea to share your thoughts with those closest to you.”