How to find the right therapist or coach.
Updated: Jan 12
People often asking me this question. And my answer, the same way you find a good green-grocer, beautician, or doctor.
There no one-size-fits-all professional who can work their magic and change your life. They may say they can...and for some people it might work. For others there may be a temporary relief (#placeboeffect) but things return back to normal usually around or before the sixth month mark. For many it will not solve their issue and they move onto the next shiny solution.
Marketing from self proclaimed gurus and social media promote this to an extent. Headlines such as "Follow these 3 secret rules to become a successful millionaire!" "I can change your life in 3 easy steps", "change your life in one hour" are not uncommon... and if it worked for them... why wouldn't it work for you?
This is also why to an extent we have regulation of health professionals. It's not the complete answer as there are still many very qualifed and regulated health proessionals who are just not great in practice. There are also those who have not done the work themselves and so it's more a case of 'do what I say and not what I do.'
As a psychologist and psychotherapist we are required to engage with our own therapy. I worked with many psychologists and spent a year having weekly psycho-therapy. It was required as part of my training but I also wanted to get something out of it.
I chose my therapist because she was well qualified across a range of approaches, a woman and seemed professional and switched on. However I can honestly say it didn't work for me and I way overstayed my relationship with her. Here's some of the reason why...
She hadn't experienced the typical stages of adult life including the many ups and downs. Her approach was all rational brain, text book.
She insisted on seeing me every week (this is also what many professional bodies recommend). I didn't need that and I feel it's an arbitrary recommendation. Cyncially I believe it's because it allows a therapist to make a living!
I do have particular neurological issues that are a challenge for me and this therapist has no experience of dealing with the neuro-physiology let alone the psychological symptoms.
What works for you might be very different from what works for me. Often we look for someone who is highly qualified just as I did... my mistake. She had no understanding of the challenges I faced or experience of the issues I was dealing with. Her training had not taught her to ask the right questions.
I remember feeling like a failure alot during our sessions and eventually I began to lie and just to end the relationship. Looking back I can't believe I allowed this but I guess this is the power dynamic for many when you enter therapy.
So after every thing I've experienced plus being a therapist myself, this is how I would select my therapist.
Firstly since therapy began it's clear that the greatest predictor of success in therapy/coaching is the quality of the connection in the relationship betweent the therapist/coach and client. I would therefore select a small group of possible hopefuls on the basis of shared values, background or experences.
Secondly, I would ask them their qualifications. I want to know that they have a broad approach and not a one trick pony or using their own methodology based on their own success. Its' helpful to know if someone has risen through their own challenging times but is also able to detach from what worked for them and focus on the client.
I would speak/meet with them beforehand and ask questions.
Ultimately I would select to work with someone who demonstrates they are managing their own life in a way that gives them contentment, health and peace of mind.
So shop around and find out who you connect with. Look beyond the 'professional' mask and remember that you are as unique as your fingerprint and one-size-definitely-does-not fit-all.