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Finding the right therapist
BACP is the main body in the UK representing counselling at national and international levels. Find a Therapist is produced for the benefit of its members and the wider public.
The association aims to promote counselling and psychotherapy, and to raise standards of training and practice. Since this directory was first published there have been increasing demands in the requirements for entry.
Eligibility and other requirements
Practitioners listed in the directory must be at least one of the following:
1. BACP Accredited counsellor, trainer and/or supervisor;
2. UKRC Registered Independent Counsellor;
3. Individual Member of BACP who has completed their core training as a counsellor, or Registered Associate;
4. Member of UKCP National Register of Psychotherapists;
5. Member of BPC - British Psychoanalytic Council;
6. Chartered Counselling Psychologist/Chartered Psychologist with counselling training;
7. COSCA Accredited Counsellor;
8. IACP Accredited Counsellor;
9. UKAHPP Accredited Counsellor;
10. FDAP Accredited Counsellor.
BACP members who satisfy criteria (3) must also confirm that they are in ongoing counselling supervision. It is a requirement for most counsellors and certainly for all BACP members to be in supervision. Supervision is a confidential process undertaken on a regular basis, which allows counsellors to discuss their client work with someone experienced in counselling and supervision. Supervision is designed to maintain adequate standards of counselling, and thereby to protect and ensure the best interests of clients.
All practitioners listed are covered by an Ethical Framework or Code of Conduct which includes a complaints procedure. This should give you confidence in selecting a suitable therapist.
How to use the online directory
Firstly, using the first pull-down menu called ’Services’ choose which type of entry you wish to search. Note: if you wish to search all entries choose ’Search entire directory’.
- Counsellors and Psychotherapists. Within the ’therapist’ entries you will find details for organisations and individual practitioners. Entries are returned in alphabetical order.
- Supervisors. Within the ’supervisors’ entries you will find details for individuals that offer counselling supervision. Entries are returned in alphabetical order. These details are mainly intended for use by fellow practitioners who wish to seek a supervisor.
- Trainers. Within the ’counsellors’ entries you will find details for organisations and individual practitioners who offer training related to counselling & psychotherapy. Entries are returned in alphabetical order. This section is mainly intended for use by fellow practitioners who wish to seek professional training.
Secondly, using the second pull-down menu called ’Region/county’ choose in which area you wish to search. Note: if you wish to search entries in all areas choose ’Search all regions’.
As well as the familiar county/regional areas, there are also two options called ’Nationwide - Individuals’ and ’Nationwide - Organisations’. These options list larger counselling organisations and individual practitioners who work on a nationwide basis, and accept clients from wide areas of the country. These options are useful if, for example, you want to find a telephone or online counselling service.
Thirdly, using the third data entry area called ’Town/postcode’ enter a town OR postcode for the place in which you would like to find a practitioner.
Counselling and psychotherapy
Some people use the terms ’counselling’ and ’psychotherapy’ interchangeably. Others, from well-established traditions, distinguish between them. There is much overlap between the two and, as practitioners will want to be sure that what they offer is appropriate for you before there is any commitment on either side; they will be happy to explain their approach to you.
Counselling and psychotherapy is a contractual arrangement by which a practitioner meets a client, in privacy and confidence, to explore distress the client may be experiencing. This may be a difficulty; their dissatisfaction with life; or loss of a sense of direction or purpose.
One of the main aims of counselling is to ’guide us from feeling victims of circumstances to feeling we have some control over our lives’ (Hetty Einzig).
Counselling and psychotherapy are always undertaken at the request of the client and no-one can properly be ’sent’ for counselling or psychotherapy. There are many situations these days where people with influence in our lives (perhaps a relative, manager at work, or teacher) will suggest talking therapies as a solution to a problem. This should be offered without any pressure or strings attached.
Counselling and psychotherapy will help you make decisions but a practitioner will not tell you what to do. If that is what you want, you need to look for some other type of help, such as information and advice agencies, telephone helplines, support or self-help groups.
Making your choice
It is likely that there will be more than one practitioner to choose from in your area of the country. BACP Accredited Counsellors, Trainers and Supervisors have achieved a substantial level of training and experience approved by the Association. These practitioners are clearly indicated in bold black and will have the letters ’BACP’ in the ’Registration/accreditation’ column for their entry.
However there may be other considerations to be taken into account, and the details provided will give useful information including the practitioner’s training, experience and special interests. Below is a brief explanation of the information we list, and how it can help you find a practitioner who meets your specific needs.
- I am registered/accredited with: tells you which organisation the individual is registered or accredited with.
- My Code(s) of Ethics is: tells you which organisation’s Code of Ethics the practitioner is covered by.
- My qualifications are: tells you what qualifications the practitioner has achieved. Common qualifications such as diplomas, degrees and certificates, and subject topics such as counselling, are abbreviated. Most practitioners also give the year in which they achieved the qualification. This should give you an indication of the depth of their experience.
- I have special interest/experience in: tells you in what areas the practitioner may have specialised work-experience or training, e.g. relationships, cancer or depression. It may be a good idea to seek a practitioner who has specific experience that can meet your needs.
- My theoretical approach is: tells you the way in which the practitioner approaches their counselling/psychotherapy service. For example, Jungian and Freudian approaches relate to the work of specific psychotherapists. In general, theoretical approach is less important than the quality of the counsellor. In some situations though, theoretical approach can be important.
- I see: tells you which types of clients the practitioner often sees. For example, some practitioners are specially trained to work with couples, families or groups. More information/explanation about this may also be found in the Additional information section.
- This is how I work: tells you how the practitioner works. For example, you may feel you require a set amount of sessions (time-limited), or are sure you will require the practitioners services over a longer period of time (long-term face-to-face work).
- I also work in: tells you if the practitioner speaks a language other than English. For some languages, you might need to search for a counsellor in another county to your own.
- Additional information: gives you more information about the practitioner. This will help you build up a more distinctive picture of their experiences & background.
- My fees: tells you what the practitioner charges for a session, which is normally 1 hour. You may also find here additional information about reduced fees (concessions) and to whom they apply. Few practitioners can afford to work for nothing, so for free or low cost counselling you need to look at the organisations.
Only you can decide whether a practitioner will be right for you. Before deciding on your therapist, do not be afraid to ask questions or request further information. Most practitioners will be happy to provide additional information over the phone. Then ask yourself if you would feel comfortable telling this person intimate details of your life. Do you feel safe with them? Do you like their manner towards you? Could you be completely open with them?
What is the commitment?
This depends on you, the counsellor and the problem. While deep-rooted problems will need maybe a weekly session for many months, short term counselling for a specific problem may only take a few weekly sessions. A session is usually 50 minutes. In a few cases one session may be enough.
Most practitioners believe that some payment, however small, reflects the client’s commitment to the process. It is all too easy to miss sessions if the going gets tough. Frequently clients find the counselling process quite painful, before the benefits are felt. In this directory the therapists listed have given an indication of their charges, which may be open to negotiation if there is a genuine problem about paying. Payment, and how many sessions you might need, will be agreed during the first session. It is wise, if you are making a long-term commitment, to agree any payments for missed or cancelled appointments and holiday arrangements. Part of setting the contract will be to agree the number of sessions before an assessment and review of progress is made, usually not more than six.
Starting the counselling relationship
Your first contact with your chosen practitioner may be by telephone. Often you will get an answerphone, used by the therapist to avoid interruption during counselling sessions. Do not be put off by this - the practitioner will telephone you if you leave your name and number.
The first appointment will be an opportunity to discuss whether continued counselling would be appropriate to your needs and therefore it is without obligation on either side. The following might be considered:
- Practical considerations such as time, place, cost and duration of meetings will need to be decided, and you should feel free to ask questions about the counsellor’s professional background.
- All that takes place between counsellor and client is treated with respect and discretion and agreement is usually made during this first session about confidentiality. If exceptional circumstances arise, your consent will be sought for a change in this agreement.
- It is a good idea to ask if notes are kept; if so, for what purpose and who has access to them. Access by you to any notes should be agreed at the outset of counselling.
- There is no need to commit yourself to a long-term contract unless you are satisfied that this is what you want. Arrange a regular review of sessions with your counsellor to evaluate your progress and perhaps renegotiate the contract.
By the end of this appointment, you should be able to decide if you wish to work with the counsellor. What you agree now will form a contract between the two of you. Many counsellors are putting their contracts in writing to avoid any misunderstandings, but a verbal contract is still valid.
If you are not sure about the first counsellor you see, it is better to arrange to see another. Having confidence in your counsellor is essential and will enable you to get the best out of the work you do together.
This text appears in its original form in the Find a Therapist Directory 2007.