You won’t know until you try it – but working with the ‘wrong’ therapist for probably deter you from ever finding a better one!
There is no point in even beginning counselling or psychotherapy if you cannot ‘make use if it’.
A competent therapist will be able to assess, very soon, whether you are ‘psychologically available’ or not; and if not they are ethically obliged not to exploit you if the work is unlikely to be of benefit to you. It would just be a waste of your time and money.
This assessment will look at your ‘ego-strength’ – which is your level of psychological resilience, or how stable you are and how much of the work you are likely to ‘take-in’ and use. People with profound personality disorders or chronic mental illness cannot generally derive much from counselling or psychotherapy – but some milder disorders may be helped.
Your family, partner, social services or solicitor may recommend that you ‘go for counselling’; but even though they may mean well, they are not in a position to know if it is what you really need.
It is the relationship you form with the counsellor/psychotherapist which has been shown to be the most effective indicator of whether the work will be of benefit to you. But if you have a history of making bad relationship decisions, of having weak boundaries, of being manipulated, of being a people-pleaser, or just profoundly lonely and needing regular contact with a caring person; then you will not be in a place to accurately assess what is best for you, and who is the best therapist for you to work with.
Professional qualifications can be an indicator of a therapist’s skills, but this is not necessarily the case. Do you know what the letters after their name actually stand for? It may be a 3-6 year academic course of study, or only a brief introduction to counselling skills that they possess. Similarly, the fees charged are not an indicator of quality. An excellent therapist may be in a financial position to charge less than the ‘going rate’; or an average counsellor may try to inflate their ‘worth’ with a high fee. Who you choose to work with and why says something significant about you too. We all ‘project’ onto other people aspects that aren’t really there.
If you don’t want face to face contact with a therapist you can approach the Samaritans for free help, or other telephone or Skype counselling agencies, or individuals. Again this choice says something about you and how much you value yourself and your willingness to relate with someone on a deeper level, and the value you place upon getting well. I have known clients who spend large sums of money on gadgets/trinkets/smoking/drinking/holidays etc. etc. and yet can’t ‘justify’ to themselves spending money to change their life from the inside. Some people would rather ‘cover up’ the outside with designer labels and a tan, than look beneath and into their wounded soul.
If you want a counsellor/therapist to just ‘sit and listen’ to you then they are to be found too. If you want someone to challenge your thinking and behaviours, and help you to change you will need to find out if this is what you will get.
Charity run ‘befriender’ agencies, and voluntary centres, may be free or very cheap but it could still be a waste of your time and money… with no change!
A psychotherapist has had a broader and wider training than a counsellor; and yet, still, psychotherapy trainings vary in their scope and relevance to the needs of the general public.
Some trainings are of a ‘cognitive’ nature; others are ‘humanistic’ others are ‘trans-personal/spiritual’ and more recent research has shown the efficacy of ‘Integrative’ psychotherapy which combines those aspects which have been shown, by research, to work.
To use an analogy of a car and garage; you wouldn’t want to have to take your car to be fixed in a garage that had only one tool to use! Working ‘integratively’ with your psychotherapist will at the very least ensure that he/she has a few more tools at their disposal… just how many depends upon their commitment to ongoing learning and training.
There are also specialists who work predominantly or exclusively with such presenting issues as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Refugee trauma, relationships, children, and the Arts – such as play drama and creative art work.
The following 4 levels of psychological difficulty and associated treatments may help you to understand which best suits your present circumstances:-
Temporary difficulties linked to external event/situation, and a change/decision is sought; time to explore own preferred outcome. E.g. workplace problems; grief; life transitions.
Treatment – short-term Counselling.
Interpersonal (me-with-others) and Intrapsychic (me-with-me) relationships; mood disorders and self-esteem problems that may be masked by dysfunctional behaviours; Traumatic event(s); Childhood issues that interfere with our present-day life; attachment and intimacy problems; difficulties with limits and boundaries; pathological grief.
Treatment options – Psychotherapy, Quantum Psyche Process and ‘The Ripple Effect’ Process
Chronic and/or acute disturbance of personality and sense of reality; severe childhood trauma(s)/abuse/neglect; Personality Disorders including Multiple Personality Disorder (called D.I.D.); untreated P.T.S.D.; addictions to drugs/medications/alcohol; lack of Ego-strength or integrity.
Treatment – Long-term psychotherapy – preferably more than once a week.
Brain-damage or organic retardation; profound mental illness; sociopathic/psychopathic behaviour; severely disordered personality; sexual and/or violent criminality.
Treatment – Psychiatric services
I hope this article clarifies for you whether therapy would be right for you and if so I wish you well in your therapeutic relationship and hope that you make the changes you desire.