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  • Writer's pictureVeena Ugargol

Finding a therapist - where do I start?

Updated: Jun 11

It’s fair to say there’s been a fair amount of change over recent years, and that includes the ways in which we can access therapy. For many years, it wasn’t unusual to access therapeutic support over the phone or in person, but until the pandemic, remote video therapy was not the norm that it is today. The way in which we access therapy is not the only thing to consider when thinking about starting therapy, we also need to reflect on what we want in a therapist to increase the likelihood of a good experience of therapy which is effective in meeting our desired goals.


Is having a good rapport with a therapist an important factor in determining the outcome of therapy? The therapeutic relationship has been a major research focus with evidence findings spanning many years consistently suggesting it to be one of the key elements in promoting therapeutic change. This seems to be the case across various modalities of therapy and also across a range of difficulties that clients may bring to therapy.

Aside from considering rapport, the therapist should have formal training and certification. You can often check this by looking at the register for the professional organisation they are accredited with. They should be insured and this is something that you can ask when you’re speaking to potential therapists during your search. They should also be able to discuss the benefits and challenges of different types of treatment and let you know how you will monitor your progress together


Here are some questions that it may be helpful to ask as you consider working with a therapist:

  • What’s your training (i.e., what certification or degrees do you hold)?

  • How long have you worked in this field?

  • What kinds of treatment or therapy do you think might help me?

  • What are the advantages and disadvantages of some of the different approaches?

  • What will therapy sessions look like?

  • What are the chances that treatment will succeed?

  • How soon should I start feeling better?

  • How will we assess my progress?

  • What should I do if I don’t feel better?

  • How much will treatment cost?


These are not always easy questions to answer, and the therapist may not be able to answer every one definitively, however, even if they’re not able to answer each question fully, you should get some sense of the therapist and their approach and whether you will be able to establish a good working relationship together.


References

Doran, J. M., Safran, J. D., & Muran, J. C. (2016). The alliance negotiation scale: A psychometric investigation. Psychological Assessment, 28(8), 885-897.


Horvath, A. O., & Symonds, B. D. (1991). Relation between working alliance and outcome in psychotherapy: A meta-analysis. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 38(2), 139-149.


Horvath, A. O., Del Re, A. C., Flückiger, C., & Symonds, D. (2011). Alliance in individual psychotherapy. Psychotherapy, 48(1), 9-16.


Martin, D. J., Garske, J. P., & Davis, M. K. (2000). Relation of the therapeutic alliance with outcome and other variables: A meta-analytic review. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 68(3), 438-450.


Safran, J. D., Muran, J. C., & Shaker, A. (2014). Research on therapeutic impasses and ruptures in the therapeutic alliance. Contemporary Psychoanalysis, 50(1-2), 211-232



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