• Anna Dallavalle

Choosing a therapist

When we consider booking our first counselling session, we start looking through counsellors' profiles and we are not very sure what we are looking for. Is it qualifications? Do we want a counsellor who specialises or one who covers a broad spectrum of emotional issues? Do we feel more comfortable with a woman? A young person or someone more mature?

This is possibly one of the hardest choices and, I suspect, one where we go more with our gut instinct as opposed to concrete facts. Ultimately, we want someone with skills who "gets us" and won't judge our past choices and present difficulties.

Some clients have a natural preferences for working in a specific way: some prefer the more structured approach of a CBT counsellor; other would rather set some goals and work towards them and other clients have a deeper need to understand why they behave the way the do, especially if the way they look at the world is seriously impacting their relationships and quality of life. A good counsellor will be able to adapt the way they work to their client's preference.

I find that a telephone call can be a good way to sense if the person at the other end of the line may be a good match for us. Counselling, even more than other professions, depends on the ability of the two parties to work together and, although a good counsellor should be able to work with a broad range of clients, we may find that we can feel a deeper connection with some than with others. Many counsellors offer a free telephone consultation and this offers both parties an opportunity to get a sense about the other person.

A significant amount of research has gone into trying to understand which counselling model is more effective and which yields the best results faster. Interestingly, the most significant factor in terms of therapy outcomes has repeatedly been shown to be the therapeutic relationship between client and counsellor. I don't find this surprising at all. The counselling process is, by definition, based on trust when a human being makes himself vulnerable to another one. Naturally, the bond between them is of great importance.

For this reason, choosing the right counsellor for you is so important. Never feel that if you start working with a counsellor, it means you cannot change. This is a decision you can make at any point of the therapeutic process.