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Finding a therapist, coach, or counsellor can be difficult. There are hundreds of different forms of therapy alone, plus considerations around values and lifestyle to take into account. I talk to many folks who have struggled with therapy because they didn’t feel safe to talk about sex or different relationship styles, or who felt that endless talking about their problems wasn’t actually helping very much.
While longer-term psychotherapy and counselling is an important part of treatment for specific mental health diagnoses such as depression or BPD, shorter-term coaching can be a great alternative for people who are otherwise mentally healthy and need some support to work through specific challenges. Coaching is typically more focused on a specific outcome or intention than counselling or psychotherapy – for example, in my coaching practice, I often work with people who want to feel more able to respect theirs and others’ boundaries, more comfortable in their own skin, more relaxed in their sexuality, or more able to express their emotions without fear.
If you know you need some support and you’re looking for the right person to work with, below are some points to consider. At the end of the article I also give a brief description of some of the most common forms of therapy, to help you make sense of some of the different approaches practitioners use.
Many therapists, coaches, or counsellors will be willing to schedule a quick chat with you before booking a session, so that you can see whether it feels like a good fit. Others may offer a discounted first session as an alternative. You can ask them some questions about how they work and bring up any specific needs or concerns you’d like to talk through with them – and there’ll be plenty of ideas for things you can ask them about in this article. If nothing else, it can be a good opportunity to feel into whether you find them approachable and easy to talk to, and whether you feel heard by them.
There are so many different approaches to therapy and counselling that it can be difficult to know which would be a good fit for you. I’ve listed some of the main ones at the end of this article. Many people are happy to go with the person that they feel most comfortable with without doing too much research into different approaches, and that’s great. If you do know that you want a specific type of approach however, then it’s important that you can talk with a potential therapist, coach, or counsellor about how they work.
For example, some people know that they want to be asked challenging questions by their therapist, while others want nothing more than an empathetic, listening ear. Or you might know that you’d like to try a more somatic, body-based approach, rather than lots of talking and analysing. If you know you have preferences, then it’s important that you can understand how someone works to see if it would be a good fit.
If you know you have something specific you want to work through, it may be helpful to check whether they have experience in this area. This might be related to specific events such as sexual assault, grief, or divorce, or it might be more about checking compatibility with your identity and lifestyle. For example, LGBT+ folks may want to make sure that any therapist they see will recognise and respect their gender expression and sexual orientation. People who include kink as part of their sexual expression may want to ensure that their therapist is sex-positive and kink-friendly if they want to bring aspects of their sex life to therapy, and polyamorous folks may need someone who is familiar with and accepting of different relationship styles.
One resource I recommend a lot is Pink Therapy, which is a directory of therapists who are welcoming of LGBT+ identities, sexual and gender diversity, and various relationship styles.
It’s important that you know whoever you’re interested in working with is qualified! Make sure to check their website for details on where they trained, what qualifications they have, and which professional bodies they are a member of. Neither ‘therapist,’ ‘counsellor,’ nor ‘coach’ are protected terms in the UK, meaning anyone can call themselves these things without needing any training. Organisations such as the BACP and UKCP in the UK accredit therapists and counsellors, so you know that members of these bodies have received a certain quality of training and abide by ethical standards. A range of similar organisations exist for the coaching profession, too.
Having supervision means that a therapist has someone they can talk to about their practice, where they can bring any challenges they’re having and receive guidance and feedback (while maintaining their client’s anonymity). This might be someone with more experience than they have, a group of peers, or someone trained specifically in supervision. Choosing a therapist who has regular supervision tells you that they are invested in making sure they have the support they need in their practice. It means that their clients benefit from that support too, and from any guidance they receive from their supervisors.
There’s a current trend towards ‘trauma-informed’ approaches right now, and some practitioners will specifically say that they work in a trauma-informed way. If you know that you have specific trauma you want to work through and process in sessions, make sure that they are qualified to do this. For example, while I am qualified to support clients in identifying and containing their trauma, I am not qualified to process specific traumatic events with clients, and will refer a client on if that’s something they wish to do.
Here are some common types of therapy, and a brief explanation of each:
If you have specific relationship challenges you want to work through, I’m happy to talk more with you about the way I work and whether it could be a good fit for you. You can contact me directly here, or read more about the way I work and arrange a chat here.
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I offer tools, resources, and coaching for the curious and ready: folks who are longing for deeper connection, trust, and flow in their relationships.
Instead of making anxiety a problem that needs to be fixed, we can learn to work with it rather than against it, transforming vulnerable places into deeper presence and connection. I’ve put together ten simple tools you can use in your relationships to do just that.Grab your Ten Embodied Tools for Reconnection PDF
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