How To Choose A Counsellor Or Psychotherapist
Professionals such as doctors and dentists are expected to provide patients with a quality service and we generally have some idea of what to expect when we seek their help. People receiving counselling or psychotherapy are entitled to just as good a standard of care. However, many intending clients do not know how to find a professional therapist and what to look for.
At the moment there are no laws about who can say they are a counsellor or psychotherapist so it is important to check that this person is a member of a professional body such as:
- The British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP)
- The United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP)
- The British Psychological Society (BPS)
- The British Association of Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapies (BABCP)
The above professional bodies require therapists to meet rigorous training standards before they approve them.
Lewis Psychology counsellors and psychotherapists are all Accredited Members of The British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP). BACP accreditation enables clients, employers and colleagues to recognise proven, competent practitioners. This means that your selection of a counsellor or psychotherapist can be based on an informed choice rather than speculation.
What Is The Difference Between BACP Membership And BACP Accreditation?
The British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) currently have five membership tiers:
- Student Member: A student member is likely to be at the start of their counselling and psychotherapy career and also new to BACP. Student membership is available for individuals who are undertaking classroom tuition on a counselling/psychotherapy course that is a minimum of one year full time or two years part time with a supervised placement.
- Associate Member: Associate membership is for members who have qualifications that do not meet the specific criteria of the Member MBACP category (category 3 below).
- Member: A member will have successfully completed and graduated from a minimum of a one year full time or two year part time counselling/psychotherapy qualification that included a supervised placement. Members are eligible to use of the designatory letters MBACP after their name.
- Accredited Member: BACP Accreditation means that your therapist has met strict guidelines regarding their training, clinical hours and regularly meets with a supervisor to discuss their case load. BACP accredited therapists must undergo a minimum number of hours of continued professional development each year and complete several written pieces of work for assessment by the accreditation panel at the BACP. To identify a BACP accredited therapist you must look for the letters MBACP (Accred.) after the therapist's name. Accreditation ensures a high standard of both training and several years clinical experience.
- Senior Accredited Member: BACP Senior Accreditation means that your therapist is an experienced, mature and accomplished practitioner in their specialism and that they have continued to reflect and develop since their initial accreditation as a counsellor/psychotherapist. To identify a BACP senior accredited therapist you must look for the letters MBACP (Snr Accred.) after the therapist's name.
All Lewis Psychology therapists hold either Accredited Member or Senior Accredited Member status.
The Advantages Of Choosing A BACP Accredited Therapy Service
An advantage of choosing a British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) Accredited Service, such as Lewis Psychology CIC, is that we uphold strict guidelines regarding:
- Operation (policy, aims and objectives, publicity, staffing, equal opportunities, evaluation and feedback)
- Management and administration (service structure, community liaison, health and safety, administration and management)
- Delivery of service (premises, professional conduct)
All organisations are not the same. Lewis Psychology CIC is an award winning practice and the only counselling and psychotherapy service in Wolverhampton to gain service accreditation status with the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP). BACP Service Accreditation demands the highest standards of practice in the counselling and psychotherapy profession and is considered by many to be the highest honour in the field.
You can also be assured that Lewis Psychology therapists are employed by the practice and do not work on an associate or self-employed basis. Therefore all staff have had been through a strict application and interview procedure and professional standards are monitored by our Clinical Director.
At the very least you will want to ensure that the counsellor or psychotherapist is qualified and has the right qualifications. The best way to do this is to choose a BACP Accredited therapist. BACP Accreditation is the “Gold Standard” that every counsellor and psychotherapist is striving to achieve. Any counsellor or psychotherapist can be a member of the BACP but to achieve accreditation the therapist must have met the criteria outlined in their core profession, qualifications and clinical experience.
All Lewis Psychology CIC counsellors and psychotherapists are individually accredited with the BACP and have undergone between four and seven years clinical training.
In the current economic climate cost is obviously a very important issue. If you do an internet search for local therapists you will see a variety of prices and you will notice that some therapists offer a very low session fee. This may appear attractive but there is usually a reason - perhaps they have recently qualified, perhaps they are still studying, maybe they work from home, maybe they are trying to build experience. Always check the person's qualifications and experience and do not be seduced by low session fees.
Perhaps a more important consideration is the overall cost. A newly qualified therapist offering services for £25 per session may take 15 sessions to work on the issue at a total cost of £375. A highly qualified therapist with over 15 years experience may charge £60 per session and take five sessions to address the issue at a total cost of £300.00. Remember it is the overall cost of therapy that you should be looking at and not the individual session fee.
Independent practitioners (sole traders) are often cheaper however, the potential drawback is that many independent practitioners operate from their family home. Ask yourself if you are comfortable seeing a therapist in their own home. Many therapists practice from their home but fail to advertise this in their literature so do remember to ask.
At Lewis Psychology we operate from our dedicated practice in Wolverhampton. The beautiful Victorian building was originally built in 1866 by renowned architect George Bidlake. It has been renovated to an exceptionally high standard and hosts several therapy rooms, a private waiting area and a free on-site car park.
It is very important to ask about your therapist's experience. For example, how many therapy hours has the therapist completed? Do they work as a therapist full time or part time? Is therapy their main job? To ensure that your therapist is experienced we would suggest that you look for a BACP Accredited therapist.
Summary Of Key Questions To Ask When Choosing A Therapist
Before you choose a therapist you should ask them a few simple questions:
- Are you a member of the BACP or are you Accredited by the BACP?
- Do you practice from home or do you rent an office?
- What qualifications do you have?
- How long did your training take?
- Do you work as a therapist part-time or full-time?
- How many clients do you see each week?
- Is this your main job?
- Are you in regular monthly supervision?
- How many therapy hours have you completed since you qualified?
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