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Questions to ask your therapist to keep you safe

When starting out with a therapist you are well within your right to check out their experience and qualifications. This helps to keep you as the client safe from malpractice.

Therapists are not regulated by the UK government, so it is important to make sure you know what you are signing up for when you do find a therapist you like. To do this here are a few questions you might want to ask and some answers to keep an eye out for. This isn’t an extensive list, but it might give you a head start.

What should I ask my therapist?

How long was their study and what qualification?

There are many different routes to becoming a therapist, however, more often than not therapists undertake two years minimum of study with levels ranging from Level 4 Diplomas, through to degrees, MAs, MScs and PHDs.

How many clinical hours did they have to do to become qualified?

Usually, at least 100 clinical hours, (I think this one is very important as therapy is a job where you need to learn outside of the classroom too). Note that different types of therapy may require a lot more clinical hours during training.

Were their clinical hours overseen by clinical supervision?

Often, at least two hours of clinical supervision a month. This can change depending on the number of clients a trainee had been seeing each month and their type of qualification. Once qualified you would still expect a therapist to have at least one and a half hours of supervision a month. I can’t stress how important clinical supervision is for therapists (and in turn their clients) during and after training.

What ethical principles do they follow, and are they registered with a governing body?

Again, due to the lack of regulation therapists technically don’t have to register with a governing body, however, doing so can up the chances of safe practice and keep therapists accountable for their work.

It can be helpful to check if your therapist is a member of an organisation such as the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy, UK Council for Psychotherapy, The National Counselling Society, among others, and abide by their ethical principles. You might also want to ask for a link to a copy of those ethical principles too. The above organisations verify qualifications and training courses.

What is their therapeutic approach?

There are honestly countless types of therapy, such as Person Centred, Psychodynamic, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), Psychoanalysis, Transactional Analysis, Gestalt - the list goes on. So, asking what your potential therapists approach is will help you to figure out if what they offer will work for you (as different therapies can at times work for different things).

When you do find a therapist who ticks all the boxes with your chosen questions then that is a great sign! The next step might be to book an initial session with them or to ask them if they offer a free consultation, because you might be shopping around to find the best fit for you.

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