Therapists. Mysterious creatures, right? Sometimes this is on purpose: the less you need to care about us and our lives, the more space there is for us to look at what’s bothering you.
But here are some lesser known facts about therapists:
We’re not all qualified
There’s no law in the UK that requires counsellors and psychotherapists to be qualified. Unbelievable, isn’t it? Anyone can open up an office tomorrow and call themselves a therapist and start charging you. Most professions are regulated: mental health is not one of them. Always search for your therapist from a reputable website (I recommend BACP’s listings and Counselling Directory) as these places have stringent checks in place and only list responsible therapists who have qualifications.
We’re not rich
Maybe our hourly rate (anywhere from £40 to over £100) seems steep. We’re only permitted to work 20 hours a week though, and we have to find a space to rent, insurance, professional membership, continuing professional development and supervision costs before we can take anything home.
We have supervisors
We take our caseload to a supervisor - a more experienced therapist than us, who provides support and guidance. They are bound by the same code of confidentiality and ethics that we are. Often these marvellous people can see the things we can’t.
We don’t talk to anyone about you
Apart from our supervisors (see above) we really don’t. Unless you tell us that you are going to harm yourself or someone else, everything you tell us in therapy stays between us.
We’ve had lots of therapy
Qualified therapists have to have lots of therapy as part of their training. Most of us pop back in from time to time when we feel we need it. We’ve sat where you are and we appreciate how hard it is but also we firmly believe in what you can get from it.
We haven’t got it all sorted
We aren’t perfect humans. We shout at our kids and annoy our partners. We’re huffy with the tax office when they’ve kept us on hold for 45 minutes. The best we can hope for is that we continue to grow our self awareness, just as our clients do.
We’re always learning
Always. We’re reading that book or taking that course or watching that documentary so that we know our subject inside out. We’re researching things to fill gaps in our knowledge. We’re learning from you, too, our clients. All the time.
Qualified counsellors and psychotherapists are a dedicated bunch. They won’t all be for you: there’s certainly something to be said for finding one that you ‘click’ with. But hopefully we all have our professionalism and commitment in common, as well as our wish to help our clients to the very best of our ability.