5 ways to help tell if you’re choosing the right therapist for you
“May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears.”
Choosing a therapist can be difficult and overwhelming. Since writing the article, “How to choose your ideal sex therapist“, I’ve been asked by clients for more specific details.
This article gives you 5 additional points that I would use myself and would recommend to friends and family.
To be clear, the questions in orange are to help you reflect and there’re no right or wrong answers. Rather, I’m trying to offer you the best questions to help you reach a decision that leads you to find a brilliant match.
1. Check their socials
This might sound obvious, but you can often get a good sense of someone from what they post.
– Is there a link to a podcast so you can here their voice?
– Or can you watch a video of them demonstrating or explaining something?
– Do you like their tone and approach?
For example, my colleague Genevieve focuses on inclusive sex education and you can learn a lot about their brilliant work from their Insta content.
Social media might seem like a funny place for me to start, given I have no professional or personal social media presence. My two main reasons for this are that I’m a private, sensitive person who doesn’t enjoy the invasive onslaught I experience on most social media platforms. Secondly, I want my business to have a polished and professional digital presence that is easy for me to successfully manage. I aim for impeccable quality over mediocre quantity.
As you can see, you can still learn a lot about me as a therapist even without social media!
That said, see if you can find out if your prospective therapist publishes about what they’ve been learning or teaching.
– Who or what organisations do they align themselves with?
– Do you align with these professionals, organisations, or causes too?
2. Lived Experience vs Professional Competence
– Do you feel your therapist must have lived experience of the issue you’re bringing to them?
– Or a shared sexuality?
– Or similar relationship experiences?
If you answer yes, how will you know? If you look at my “About” page you can see I’m out about my neurodivergence, sexuality, kinks, and relationship style. This is because it’s taken me a damn long time to work all of that shit out, so I want to lead by example and be open about my personal, lived experiences.
However, I have plenty of gay and kinky colleagues who don’t publicly disclose this information on their websites, with very good reason. I mean, if a therapist can only work with issues that they have experienced themselves, how do I manage to work with rapid ejaculation and other penile issues when I don’t have a penis?
It can also be helpful to see what you can find out about your prospective therapist offers in terms of specialisms. For example, I also give specialist trainings to other therapists on neurodivergence, sex, and relationships.
You can usually find this information on a therapist’s website. For example, my colleague Lara is both a qualified counsellor and creator of Centaur Studios in Hackney, London. It’s likely that someone who has set up their own BDSM playspace and community hub is going to have a vast variety of experience in all kinds of kink and be pro-BDSM, personally and professionally.
3. Collaborations & Publications
– What collaborations has your prospective therapist done?
– Do they speak to you?
– Do you care more about their years of experience or level of qualifications?
Two of my favourite recent collaborations were discussing being a gender-diverse ally on the Fifty Shades of Gender podcast and creating a Neuroqueer course for Kalda, the leading LGBTQ+ mental health app. From this, you can guess that gender and LGBTQ+ issues in general are really important to me. (Not that this necessarily makes me competent in this field, but that’s a separate point.)
While I don’t recall a single client asking to see my qualifications or certificates, during the two years I was living in Oxford, a lot of my clients were academics and researchers. For them, it mattered that I had a raft of academic and clinical qualifications.
Personally, I love the rigour of academic research and I’ve had two papers published this year, as primary author on anodyspareunia and additional author on alcohol use and sexual dysfunction. For those not in academia, this might be totally irrelevant.
– Does being able to write a research paper make me seem like a better or worse fit as your counsellor?
– Or don’t you really care?
4. Check their vibe
Let’s move away from the due diligence and mental elements of choosing a counsellor.
– Do you like the look of them in their photos?
– Do you like the colours, fonts, and the words they use on their website?
– If you’ve found a podcast or video, do you like the sound of their voice?
Yes, this is highly subjective and personal, but that’s the point. Please don’t underestimate how important your gut feeling is – trust yourself. All the experience and qualifications in the world won’t make up for a lack of connection.
If you don’t like the look of or feel you can trust this person, how are you going to share your deepest secrets with them?
5. Do they feel familar?
This might seem very woo woo, but a few of my long-term clients have told me that they saw my photo and “just knew” I was the therapist for them.
– Do any of your prospective counsellors feel familiar?
Call it instinct, intuition, or fate, sometimes we just find the right person at the right time. If you find a prospective therapist who feels familiar in a good way, trust your inner guidance. You don’t need to make the search harder for yourself than that.
Although it can seem daunting to choose a therapist, if you follow the five points in this article, it will hugely simplify the process for you. And, you will find a really good, if not perfect, match.
Let me take this opportunity to remind you that you absolutely deserve to work with a therapist who really gets you, who you feel save with, and who you enjoy working with.
Lastly, if you’d like a recommendation, please get in touch and I’ll do my best to refer you to a colleague who has the qualifications, experience, language, or other aspects you’re looking for. Together, we can get you the help you need and deserve.