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Finding the right therapist

When it comes to your mental health, you need to find the best fit for you. You need to know which door to walk through.

Choosing the right therapist is no easy task - it's one of the reasons we will usually ring you and have a chat before your first session, to make sure you get a chance to see who's behind the door. The most important thing is that you do make a choice and pick someone, if you need that in your life - putting off getting help is never the right choice.

There is no wrong time to make the right decision. Dalton McGuinty

So here are a few pointers on making sure you choose the right therapist to talk with.

The person

Usually we meet someone and get a sense one way or the other as to whether we'll get on with them - and that often happens quite quickly. We've all had the experience of meeting someone and having an instant like or dislike creep in to affect how we're feeling about them. A relationship with a therapist is no different.

First and foremost, you have to feel comfortable with your therapist. It's important that you feel they will be someone who you can talk to, be honest with, and share what you want to share. You might be surprised to hear that most therapists will be very understanding if you decide that they aren't a good fit - we want you to feel comfortable with us, and if that's not the case then we'll happily recommend you to someone who may fit better.

Therapy is about self-realisation; about helping you to become more self-aware and to find your solutions, to master your own life. That needs a partner you can comfortably work with within a counselling framework. And that needs trust. Trusting someone you don't feel comfortable with is hard, to say the least.

So, make sure you feel comfortable with the person you are talking with.

Their attitude

All therapists are trained to have unconditional positive regard - no matter the person or their context. But that connection is far easier if the therapist you select has an attitude to life that you understand and share, at least in part.

Ask your therapist about their approach to life, their beliefs. You don't have to share in those exact beliefs, but you'll want to at least feel comfortable with them. You may have 'red lines' around certain beliefs or attitudes that you would want to ensure your therapist shares; so, ask.

Their accreditation

Within Australia there are two peak bodies that provide accreditation and standards for therapists. These are the Australian Counselling Association (ACA) and the Psychotherapy and Counselling Federation of Australia (PACFA). You should look for a therapist/counsellor who is accredited with one of these bodies, both of which require a certain level of training in order to provide membership.

The therapy

There are many different forms of therapy, and depending on your need you may be best served by one or another of these.

Unfortunately it's not quite as simple as listing the therapies and stating what problems each is best for; that really depends as much on you and the therapist as it does on the therapy itself. There are great articles out on the web that explain the many flavours of therapy and how they work, and it's often worth exploring these and then finding a therapist who provides what you're looking for.

And if you're not sure, it's worth starting at the 'shallow end' of the pool, with a person-centred therapy approach. This can help you identify what it is you need, if you need to swim a little deeper.

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