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As a starting point, it can be helpful to break your therapy search down into two sections: the therapist (the person or professional), and the therapy (the style or approach). 

Therapist: Educational Psychologist

With all therapy we would always suggest speaking with a trained professional who will be better equipped to support you. We would recommend that you seek out a professional with either a masters or doctorate level qualification. These professionals will be trained to a requisite standard to have the skills needed to support you. This may include a psychotherapist, counselling psychologist, clinical psychologist, or psychiatrist. Whichever you choose is a personal choice for you. Counselling psychologists, clinical psychologists, and psychiatrists are trained in a range of different therapies. However, they usually have a preference so ask when speaking with them.

If you wish to work on an educational issue then an educational psychologist may be the profession you seek out. Educational psychology is the study of how people learn, including teaching methods, instructional processes, and individual differences in learning. It explores the cognitive, behavioural, emotional, and social influences on the learning process. An educational psychologist has a doctorate just like a counselling psychologist or clinical psychologist. They use their understanding of how people learn to develop instructional strategies and help students succeed in school. Educational psychologists focus on the learning process of early childhood and adolescence. However, they also explore the social, emotional, and cognitive processes that are involved in learning throughout the entire lifespan. 

Therapy: Person-Centred Therapy with a compassion focused approach

When considering your expectations of your next therapist, you noted that you would prefer someone who guides you. This is a skill typically practiced by a humanistic therapist, more commonly known as a person-centred therapist. Humanistic therapy is more of an umbrella term, with other therapies sitting underneath. Person-centred is the big brother, it’s the biggest and most popular. However, it has siblings who have significant value. These siblings include: gestalt, existential therapy, solution-focused therapy, transactional analysis, positive therapy and schema therapy. There are specific person-centred therapists and there are also some therapists that have person-centred therapy as the cornerstone of their approach while also using other approaches. Therapists who use this approach, as the name suggests, puts you in the centre of the process and works with whatever you wish to address, so you have the autonomy in your therapy sessions. The premise of this is that you are the driver rather than the passenger in therapy. You decide where to go in each therapy session and the therapist simply observes and guides you through this. While person-centred therapy is credible and effective for all mental health struggles, there are some specific areas where you may require specialist direction. Discuss this with your therapist because the approach will be unique to you.

 

Compassion Focused Therapy (CFT): As you indicated that your expectations for therapy style is compassion, then CFT may be more suitable. This requires ownership of your thoughts feelings and actions. 

Summary

We would always advise you to seek professional support by someone with at least a specialist masters or a doctorate qualification, as these will be trained with the skillset that will help you. Most professionals offer a free consultation. This is as much for the professionals to understand you and your needs as it is for you to check their credentials and whether you feel a rapport with them. Also, spend some time reflecting on the best style of therapy for you based on your newfound knowledge.

Therapy is a deeply personal process, so your likes and dislikes are incredibly important. It can be helpful to start with the area of life you are struggling with most. Hold in mind that therapy should challenge you (if it were easy then you wouldn't need to seek support). Being challenged may seem like a basic skill, but it requires specialist training. This is an important aspect of therapy and can only be effectively managed by a trained professional who will do this in a safe and containing way. 

Finally, once you start therapy spend some quality time consolidating what you are grappling with. Take time between sessions to reflect on what you explore during therapy. Find a place of sanctuary for you, whether that be a coffee shop, on a walk, out for a run, or anywhere you tend to do your ‘serious thinking’. For more guidance on how to choose your therapist and what to look out for in therapy please visit this link.

 

One final note of caution, there are many different perspectives on therapy so please use this as a guide and not a 'prescription'. In fact, it can feel like every therapist has a different opinion of therapy. Don't let this bamboozle you. Read the descriptions and links on our website, follow our guidance, and don't be afraid to ask any prospective therapist the questions highlighted.

This site offers the opportunity to use the information provided to tailor the support you might need but everybody’s circumstances are unique to them and there will always be individual differences. Decisions should be taken only after considering the effects on specific circumstances. Therefore, the information contained on this website is for information purposes only. If you are on this website then you are likely looking for meaningful support (which we all need) and we would always suggest that you speak with a licensed professional. 

If you need help for a mental health crisis or emergency, it's important to know that support services are available for you to access, whatever you’re going through. If you've already been given a crisis line number to use in an emergency, it's best to call it. Otherwise you can call 116 123 to talk to Samaritans, or email: jo@samaritans.org for a reply within 24 hours. Or text "SHOUT" to 85258 to contact the Shout Crisis Text Line, or text "YM" if you're under 19. You can also call 0800 1111 to talk to Childline if you are under 19. The number will not appear on your phone bill. You can also call 111 or ask for an urgent GP appointment. If you don't feel like you can keep yourself or someone else safe then call 999 or visit your local A&E. These services will only share your information if they are very worried about you or think you are in immediate danger.

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