Choosing a coach, therapist or other wellbeing practitioner is a very personal affair. Word of mouth may seem like a good idea but it can’t always be relied upon. As people, we are all individual and a quality or character trait that is appealing, to one person may be off-putting to another.
Choosing one practitioner from a bunch of online profiles can be a very nerve-racking affair. Who do you entrust with your personal information, not to mention your innermost thoughts? It’s not a decision to be taken lightly. For this reason we have put together a 7-point guide to choosing your therapist. If you are new to seeking professional help this makes for essential reading.
- There are any number of online directories for finding local counsellors, coaches, nutritionists, hypnotherapists. etc. Each directory operates differently and has its own criteria for accepting practitioner profiles. To be listed on some sites a practitioner may have to pay a subscription and produce evidence of their qualifications and professional memberships. Other sites, however, do not require any of these things. Our advice is to stick to the reputable directories, particularly those associated with professional bodies as they tend to be stringent about qualifications and ongoing professional development. If in doubt ask the online directory about its eligibility criteria for their registered practitioners.
- To practice as a counsellor or psychotherapist all practitioners must be sufficiently qualified. There are a great many routes to qualification. Some will have trained to a deeper level than others. Compare and contrast the qualifications of different therapists before deciding what’s right for you. In addition, there are a wide variety of counselling approaches which can be confusing for someone trying to decide what they need. If you like the sound of a counsellor because of what they have written in their profile, ask them to describe their approach in terms you understand.
- Coaching is not yet subject to the same professional standards as counselling. There is currently no requirement to be qualified before practising as a coach or mentor. This is likely to change in the near future, but for now, prospective clients may struggle to distinguish a qualified, skilled and experienced coach from the vast amount of choice available. In recent decades there has been an explosion in the number of coaching courses available – from short courses completed in a single weekend to robust postgraduate courses and masters. When choosing a coach it’s important you assess their training and its suitability for your particular needs. And like counselling, there are any number of approaches which can make it difficult to understand what is on offer. Pick someone you like the sound of and then ask them to explain how they work. All good practitioners will be more than happy to spend time on this with you to help you make up your mind.
- Research shows that coaching fees are not a reliable indicator of a good coach. With this in mind, we advise you to look closely at a coach’s background and training. Consider the breadth and depth of their relevant experience. Is there a match between your needs and their proven track record? Or perhaps they offer a particular skill or perspective that you are seeking to develop?
- Professional integrity is indicative of a practitioner’s effectiveness and their fitness to practice. Pay close attention to what they say about ongoing professional development, reflective practice and supervision, and peer learning. Ask about their professional membership and its ethical framework and code of conduct. Are you convinced that they mean what they say and it isn’t just lip service?
- Don’t be afraid to ask a practitioner about their practice, training and qualifications. If it helps to, treat your first conversation like a job interview with you as the interviewer. Really listen to their responses; to the words and to their tone of voice. And trust your instincts. Wellbeing therapies work BECAUSE of the relationship you forge together not in spite of it.
- If after a session or two the connection between you is lacking tell them and move on. Don’t waste your time and money if the rapport isn’t there. Choose someone else. Your personal breakthrough may be just around the corner.