Finding a therapist you can trust
If you or your loved ones should need the help of a therapist, how do you find someone you can trust? Do you accept someone at face value and trust them to be who they profess to be, or should you do some research before engaging with them?
Very worryingly, it is not currently illegal for anyone to call themselves a counsellor or a psychotherapist, even when they have no such qualifications. It’s not illegal, but it is highly unethical and deeply frowned upon by the British Association of Counsellors and Psychotherapists, as it is of course very misleading to the public.
I’d been concerned for some time that there are people around who falsely promote themselves in this way, but when I recently discovered that someone I know through networking is doing just this, I felt even more concerned. Because of this I would like to strongly encourage anyone looking for help from a counsellor or psychotherapist, for themselves or anyone they care about, to fully check out a practitioner’s qualifications before deciding whether or not they feel that they can trust them.
Anyone can give advice, but this is not what counselling is about, and an unqualified person could cause untold damage to an emotionally vulnerable client. A reputable counsellor will have undertaken extensive training to learn how to professionally and empathically manage any emotional issues which may arise during a therapy session with a client, and also to address any personal issues they may have themselves.
It’s an equally worrying situation regarding hypnotherapists, as there are many different types and standards of hypnotherapy training courses, even some which can be bought on ebay for under £50. There are also many different organisations and registers which can be joined, but there is not one main ethical body as there is with the BACP for counsellors and psychotherapists. Because of this it’s possible for someone to complete just a brief introductory course in hypnotherapy, then be able to call themselves a hypnotherapist. They can then go on to join an online organisation, pay a fee, and be allowed to use certain letters after their name, giving the impression that they must be properly qualified to be affiliated to a professional body.
Unlike the BACP, these organisations and directories are not regulatory bodies and don’t have an interest in regulating their subscribed members. I have recently contacted one such organisation who on the surface give the impression of being very professional, but I found that they are far from it. While they are apparently quite happy to accept a fee from someone to list their details on their website, there is no-one within the organisation who can provide details of that person’s qualifications when requested.
A reputable professional organisation should be able to answer your questions clearly and give full details of any training and qualifications that their members have, just as any therapist of integrity should be happy to clearly provide full details of theirs.Â If an organisation or individual are vague and can’t or wont provide detailed information, be extremely cautious.
You may well feel, as I did, that if you know someone personally or socially, or they frequent your local circles or networking groups, that you can trust them to be the qualified professional therapist they profess to be, but please be aware that after the recent experience I’ve had, I know that this is not necessarily the case. So for safety’s sake, please do ask detailed questions and look into all the facts before choosing or recommending any therapist, no matter how much or how loudly they promote themselves, they may not be all they appear to be.
- Toni Mackenzie is a registered member of the BACP. This organisation is the main regulatory body in the UK for counsellors and psychotherapists, and is committed to protecting the public by listing on their ‘Find a Therapist’ pages only counsellors who are qualified to their high standards.
- Toni has completed levels 1, 2 and 3 in counselling training at Trafford College, fully qualifying in 1998 when she received her Counselling Diploma.
- In 2005, Toni completed a Diploma Course in Hypnosis, Hypnotherapy, Psychology and Psychotherapy with the National College of Hypnosis and Psychotherapy.
- Toni has since further qualified with a Level 2 Certificate in EFT with the AAMET, a Certificate in NLP training from Manchester College, and a Certificate in Life Coaching from Newcastle College.