This is my personal overview based on my opinions and experiences as a therapist. I hope it will give you a better idea of what steps to take to give you a better chance of finding a good therapist who you find beneficial who works ethically.
First of all, remember who is in charge, if you pay the fees, you can make the choices, and you can hire and fire when you wish, bad therapists are out there and you need to be on your guard.
You have no obligation to stay with that particular therapist and be aware that any recommendations from family or friends are not a guarantee, only a personal opinion from their perspective. Your experience may turn out to be a very different one with that same therapist.
Unfortunately, not everyone has the total freedom to choose any therapist they like, and you could argue that private fee-paying clients have the best options available to them within the limitations of their budget. However, if you can’t afford to pay for therapy yourself, you may have to use an insurance company, which may restrict the choices for you, or you can only use free services from a charity, college, or health centre, which may limit your options to choose the therapist, or you will have a minimal selection available to you.
Trying to find a therapist can take time, but you are ultimately in charge of the choices you make, if you think of it this way, When you have your hair cut at the hairdressers, and you like the way it turned out, or discover that the service is excellent.
If the service is good, you will probably return to the same one next time. However, if you don’t like the service they provide, you can control the situation and find a new, better establishment.
It’s the same when looking for a therapist. If you do not like the service, take control and move on to the next until you find one that works for you.
Not every online therapist or offline, will be a good match for all clients, just as you will not agree with, or like everyone you encounter in your life, sometimes we have different chemistry, so take your time finding one you connect with on a level that works for you.
Remember that qualifications are not a very helpful indicator. For example, a therapist who is a Dr in psychology is not necessarily going to be better than a therapist with just a diploma in counselling because books and theories are only guides, and you need other personal skills to complement your therapy training to make you an effective therapist.
Qualifications don’t show therapists how to cure your depression or anxiety; if they did, you could buy your own books and then cure your own problems. Being a good therapist has more to do with personal ability when using a combination of empathy, life experience, qualifications and knowledge, not just book reading and qualifications.
If a therapist insists that being a member of this organisation or that one, or having a licence means you can trust them. Or it guarantees you have a good therapist. Remember this, they just lied to you, and they know it.
No organisation or licensing body can guarantee competency and success for you in therapy. They will only mention their high standards and training.
Never pay any attention to any testimonials a therapist shows you or any client recommendations they use as advertising on a website or anywhere else. It could be untrue or misleading.
If they give out emails or contact details of past clients for you, ask to check the authenticity of the testimonials. If they oblige by giving you contact information, they will have seriously breached a client’s privacy and confidentiality. Using clients to validate the therapist is seen as unethical and bad practice. Find a therapist that understands the importance of your privacy and confidentiality.
Beware of promises, such as I can help you, or I will change your life, or even outrageous statements like I can cure your depression, as it’s all empty promises or bluff and bluster, to make you part with your money, because that’s all their interested in.
In my opinion, you should never pay in advance before therapy starts and always ask for a free consultation first. You need that time to find out if you like the therapist. If they won’t do that, why not? Are they afraid or worried?
The relationship between you and your therapist is probably the essential part of any successful therapy outcome. It will always help if you had some time to talk to them first before making a considered choice.
Therapy organisations should never be seen as a guarantee or validation of any particular therapist. It is only an organisation that promotes its members over and above other organisations. A licence is required in some countries to work as a therapist. This is also no guarantee that you will be treated professionally and respectfully.
You will always be the best judge of the therapist based on your experience; no organisation should be seen as a guarantee of your safety, always be aware and take responsibility for your safety first. If Doctors can steel kill and generally do bad things to patients in their care, it can show that the regulatory body they belonged to was no guarantee of good behaviour, and neither should you.
It matters not if people are police doctor’s firemen, therapists or lawyers because just like me, they are just people, the same as you, and everyone else, they may be good and bad, or were once good and are now not so good, unfortunately, people do occasionally change for the worst over time.
If something about the therapist feels wrong, or the therapist makes you feel uncomfortable. Even if they seem to be a good choice on paper, change the therapist immediately. Why wait. If the therapist says or does anything that makes you suspicious, find a new one, you do not need to say why.
Listen to your inner voice and trust your instincts. Then, if you feel unsettled in the therapist’s company or think there is something wrong, find a new one, remember you are in charge.
Steer clear of any therapist that makes big claims or makes big promises to cure issues like depression or anxiety. It’s probably all about marketing and money and luring in desperate people. If it’s too good to be true, you can bet it’s probably not true.
Marketing tactics such as using clients to provide testimonials about their therapy service show a total disregard for their client’s confidentiality. In my opinion, this indicates very questionable professional ethics.
Would you like someone to email you and asking about your personal therapy experience or asking for proof of who you are to validate a testimonial? Allowing them to verify that you are not just a fictitious person?
Providing a confidential service means that it is confidential, and even the fact that you have had therapy is also sensitive information. Any testimonial has to be shown to be true. In some countries, the name and address of the person providing the testimony have to be made available to people. Or an advertising regulatory authorities must be able to check its validity.
If possible, talk to the therapist before making any payments. A free consultation will help you find out what you think about the therapist before entering into any financial commitment.
It will also give you the chance to ask questions and get an idea of how you feel about them as your prospective therapist. If you can’t find a therapist that you like who provides a free session, then you may have to pay to find out if you’re a good fit together.
I would advise against looking for free therapy as free often comes with a hidden cost.
A therapist’s specialities or expertise in any particular problem area or issue only shows that they are focused on a specific subject or area of interest. So, for instance, if a therapist specialises in eating disorders, does it mean they can’t work with anger issues? No, because therapists need to work with the person as a whole, not just one problem.
Everything we are as a person is complex and interlinked, anger love, happiness, anxiety and depression. They are all part of the bigger picture, they all exist in the same place, and each component influences the other. Quite often, an emotional issue like anger or anxiety is nothing more than a symptom or emotional expression of a deeper problem.
An online therapist has to be flexible and adaptable and work with a wide range of problems. Because we are all complex, unique individuals, and not just a single symptom, don’t just look for therapists who specialise in anger management if you have anger issues. By doing so, you may be restricting your chances of discovering what is going on within you.
Today online therapy services provide you with more opportunities to find counselling and psychotherapy online. In addition, you don’t have to use the therapist closest to you anymore, so you have more choice.
Good luck in your future search, and I hope this has been of some help.