Have you ever had cause to look for a counsellor or psychotherapist? What was it about that therapist that meant you choose them in particular? Just one of the important questions for a person opening a ‘talking therapy’ business in Bristol – a city well equippedwith professionals offering therapies of many different kinds. To clarify, I am talking about therapy available from private therapists. What is available on the NHS, how to access this and current changes to that provision is another discussion.
So you are faced with a wide and eclectic selection of therapists: the choice is huge. The challenge is not to become overwhelmed at a time when things are already difficult. Many counsellors and therapists appear to offer similar benefits. Moreover, when people talk about why they chose to have therapy, let alone a particular therapist, you rarely hear them say, ‘there was a good offer on’, ‘I had some spare cash so I thought I’d treat myself’ or ‘I was given this flier for paper folding therapy’. The cost and evidence-base is important but the perception of trust and integrity probably comes first.
Whether or not you feel you can trust someone is a complex relational dynamic. People say that when they decide they want to find a counsellor or psychotherapist, they arrive, often unintentionally, at an emotionally honest place. ‘I knew I couldn’t do this on my own’, ‘things got to a crunch point’, ‘I felt stuck’, ‘nobody understood’, ‘I thought I was losing my mind’, ‘I was hurt’, ‘I wanted to find my direction again’, ‘I needed a sounding board’. This is humanity and vulnerability. This is something that requires care, positive regard, and acceptance. Therapists know this and will allow you the choice. Allow yourself the choice. Shop around. Settle on something that feels safe. That is the perfect start.