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Finding the right therapist

Community Counselling Centre of Nipissing can match clients with the right individual to meet their needs

Finding a therapist can be challenging. Finding the right therapist can be even more challenging.

What qualities draw people to therapists? What should one look for when searching for a therapist? For those new to therapy, it is important to find someone they can connect and build a trusting relationship with. Did you know that online therapy with a computer is a thing? Not engaging with a human therapist can be ineffective and impersonal.

At Community Counselling Centre of Nipissing (CCCN), all new referrals are carefully reviewed and high-need referrals or those who have suffered recent trauma are prioritized. CCCN has over 20 therapists from diverse backgrounds who offer psychotherapy in different areas of specialization.

As well, the walk in/call in clinic is available every Tuesday and Thursday from 1 to 7 p.m. To access services, visit the CCCN website.

Government funded programs can have long wait lists, which is not ideal for people needing therapy right away. Some government or employer funded programs are moving towards stepped care models, whereby people seeking a therapist are expected to follow online or correspondence-type programs before having access to a real person. They may also be limits to the number of sessions available and group counselling services may be the only option.

When seeking out a therapist, it is very important to find someone who is regulated. This may provide some assurance that the therapist follows a code of ethics, minimum quality standards and understands confidentiality. Some professional colleges regulating psychotherapy in Ontario include but are not limited to College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers, College of Registered Psychotherapists of Ontario and Ontario College of Nurses.

It is recommended to check the member list on the college websites. Don’t hesitate to ask your therapist if they belong to one of these colleges.

Finding an experienced therapist

Experience is everything. Most humans are complicated, and many are dealing with intersectionality of problems ranging from mental health, addictions, trauma, or all of the above. It can take years for an experienced “generalist” therapist to gain competence in a wide range of issues. Therefore, it is recommended to find a therapist with many years of experience and knowledge in various areas.

Areas of specialization

An experienced and professional therapist will be more than happy to discuss their formal training in treating children, couples, mental illness, addiction and/or providing trauma-informed treatments. These areas of specialization require expertise and knowledge that comes with extensive research and studying literature devoted to evidence-informed care.

Working with different cultural and religious backgrounds

Culture and religious beliefs are important to each individual person. It is important to find a therapist who is comfortable with Indigenous approaches, Christian or religious counselling, or specializes in francophone language and culture. If this is important to you, don’t hesitate to ask for a therapist who understands and appreciates your needs. Your culture is an important part of your recovery and wellness.

Therapeutic Approach

In therapy, there are dozens of popular treatment approaches. Few psychotherapists will approach an issue in the same way. For example, one therapist may prefer motivational interviewing while another may take a cognitive behavioural approach. A third may prefer dialectical therapy or Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR).

The list of possible therapy approaches is almost endless, which makes the field somewhat confusing and complicated. When narrowing down your list of therapists, do not be afraid to question the approach they prefer and why.

Addictions counselling

For those overcoming an addiction, an abstinence-based approach is common. Given that relapse is a common occurrence, it helps when a therapist understands the concept of harm reduction, which involves safe use, without the expectation of abstinence. The harm reduction approach recognizes that some people are not able to stop using completely, for a variety of reasons.

Cost of therapy

Most psychotherapists are required by their college to disclose their fees in advance of providing services. Potential clients should make sure to ask about fees and terms of payment before beginning therapy.

How to find a therapist

Private practice has become very popular and there are many private practitioners in the area. If you prefer a private therapist, you can find one online through Psychology Today or numerous online search tools. Publicly funded services for children are also available through local schools with each school board employing mental health leads and mental health workers. Local psychotherapist Michael Hughes says, “It is important to keep in mind that your therapist works for you.” He advises “tapping into your network and asking people you trust who they recommend as a therapist.”

Once you have chosen a therapist, you will know early on if you have found the right fit. Most people find therapy to be a profound, life changing process. At CCCN, counsellors hear long-buried secrets that have never been heard before. This helps to uncover and determine the best course of action.

Clinical theorist Carl Rogers identified the three most important qualities of an effective psychotherapist: warm acceptance, accurate empathy and genuineness of self expression. If you add, proven competence in an evidence-based treatment approach, you have the makings for a great therapy experience.

Ready to get started with finding a therapist? Contact CCCN at 705-472-6515 or by email at [email protected].