We all go to the dentist and doctor for a check-up, but few of us think to go to a therapist for a mental health check-up but like any other part of our body, our minds need to be kept fit and healthy to enable us to be prepared and deal with whatever ups and downs life throws at us. Sadly many of us do not take care of our minds in the same way so we suffer in silence and cope with anxiety or depression when it is within our grasp to thrive rather than merely survive.

Mental health has been in the news a lot recently, from Princes William and Harry talking openly about their experiences, to the daily discussion about the mental state of President Trump across The Pond. Thankfully these open discussions are changing attitudes towards mental health and normalising what has been, for too long, an almost taboo subject.

Given that, in any year, one in four of us will suffer from some form of mental health condition from mild stress to profound psychological disturbance and everything in between, a mental health check-in would seem like a good idea.

A check-in could be just for reassurance or the beginning of a process to have a more rewarding emotional life

It’s great that in this fast paced, high pressure world in which we now live, it is now finally becoming recognised as a strength to want, ask for and get support for mental wellbeing but what’s the best way to know what therapist and therapy will be right for you?

Here at A Therapist in Town, we are pleased to list over 150 different talking therapists covering a vast range of therapies – from psychoanalytical and psychodynamic therapies to behavioural and humanistic – but how do you choose the therapist that will be right for you?

We spoke to one of our regular therapists to get her top tips.

  • Get personal! It’s not one size fits all – it’s critical to have a rapport and good relationship with your therapist. If you don’t find that with your first attempt, try someone else.
  • Read a therapist’s profile and ‘biog’ to see the style of therapy they offer and whether it resonates with you – often the choice of therapist is unconscious!
  • Consider the issues or blocks that are forefront and have led to the decision to see a therapist and look for a practitioner who lists any of these as a specialism.
  • A good therapist will usually set up a phone call before booking in an initial consultation. This gives you both an idea of expectations and also an intuitive feeling of how comfortable you feel with the speech pattern, tone of voice, welcoming nature of the therapist even before you decide to meet.
  • Try to keep an open mind about the gender of your therapist. The gender of your choice may be a part of the issue.
  • Therapy is a commitment, whether it’s short term 8-12 weeks or a deeper exploration over a year or two. It’s important to think about fitting this in with your lifestyle. What are the costs? What are the travel implications? What time are you willing to invest in yourself?
  • Remember you’re not looking for a ‘pal’, you’re looking for an ally and a guide to help you discover more about yourself and how you can set yourself on a path to a healthier way of being. Be ready for some challenges.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions!! – Does your therapist have the relevant qualifications and accreditation to a recognized professional body? What experience do they have? How do they work? These are all important indicators of whether they will be the right fit for your needs.

Steff Roeg is a specialist in Psychosynthesis therapy www.steffroeg.co.uk

For more information and guidance mental health charity Mind has a very useful A-Z run down of the most common reasons people seek therapy, the different types of therapy that are available and what they entail.

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