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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: Psychiatrist 

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 a medical diagnosis is important to you or a professional has advised you to do so then seek out a psychiatrist. However, when considering a medical diagnosis some counselling psychologists, clinical psychologists, educational psychologists, or health psychologists have additional training to be able to assess and diagnose specific conditions. Please speak with these professionals directly to better understand whether they can diagnose the specific condition you are seeking clarity on. Also, it is very important to note that an assessment does not indicate a diagnosis. The professional may have a different perspective based on their expertise. This should not invalidate the things you are struggling with and they may be able to suggest alternatives that you may not have considered before which may help. You might find it difficult to engage with these and it may take some time to do the hard work in addressing these issues. 

Psychiatrists are the only professionals who are able to prescribe medication. Please speak with a psychiatrist or your GP directly, who should be able to direct you beyond the prescription because the medication is only ever part of the solution. Psychological work should always be combined with the medication. This message is not always communicated well, but when you think about it, it makes sense. The medication will not change your social environment. It can’t change your relationships or your financial status for example. The outside world remains the same as it did before taking medication and we are still going to find ourselves in multiple social situations on a daily basis. Therefore, we need to find ways to manage the social and environmental aspects of our lives with the aid of medication. For example, medication may take the edge off the anxiety short-term in order to give you the space to tackle the anxiety long-term. 

Therapy: Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) 

As you are looking for a therapy style that is led by the therapist, you may wish to consider CBT. The premise of this is that the therapist utilises all their skills to guide the client to a place they think would benefit them. A CBT therapist will either teach you skills or assign you tasks to complete in-between sessions. Some therapists specialise in CBT therapy, while others integrate CBT therapy as part of their practice. Whichever you choose is a personal choice for you. Examples of professionals who can integrate CBT within their practice include counselling psychologists, clinical psychologists, educational psychologists, or health psychologists. CBT is seen as a huge umbrella with many therapies falling underneath It. While many purists would disagree with this, there are therapies that are part of the CBT family. Examples include, compassion focused therapy (CFT), schema therapy, acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), or cognitive analytical therapy (CAT).

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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