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Find Your Perfect Match: Essential Tips for Choosing Therapy

Updated: Mar 25

Dharon Shinwell UK counsellor and clinical hypnotherapist

Having dedicated years to a career in therapy and having gained a deep well of knowledge in Solution-Focused Therapy and Clinical Hypnotherapy, I realise that the challenge of finding the right therapeutic options for you can be daunting. In these modern times, an array of therapeutic methods exist, making the first steps feel bewildering. Within this article I offer essential tips for choosing the right therapy. I'll shed light on a selection of most common therapeutic approaches within the United Kingdom.

When considering accessing talking therapies, there are several factors to consider.

A counselling session taking place

Selecting the right therapeutic approach holds a vital role in this journey. The realm of talk-based therapies boasts a diverse array of choices, each with its distinct methodology, catering to various concerns. Therefore, embarking on an exploration of these diverse therapeutic avenues is of paramount importance.

Understanding that the effectiveness of therapy hinges on your personal resonance, it's wise to explore those methods that align with your comfort and needs. If the initial attempt doesn't provide desired outcomes, be open to exploring alternate avenues, recognizing that the ideal therapeutic fit might require a journey of experimentation.

Delving into the qualifications of your chosen therapist is another vital facet. Ensuring their proper credentials and affiliation with esteemed bodies like the UK Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP) is essential. This assurance underscores their adeptness and adherence to established standards.

The therapist's tenure and specialization merit considerable contemplation too. If your quest for therapy revolves around a specific concern, engaging a therapist well-versed in that domain can heighten the prospects of favorable outcomes.

Geographic location and scheduling flexibility are also pivotal considerations. The proximity of the therapist's practice and their willingness to accommodate flexible appointment slots can significantly streamline the logistics of therapy, seamlessly integrating it into your daily routine.

Financial constraints bear weight as well. The financial aspect of therapy varies; aligning with a therapist who works within your budget is vital. Some therapists extend options such as sliding scale fees or economical alternatives, so these should be explored.

Lastly, the interpersonal connection with your chosen therapist holds significance. Cultivating a rapport founded on comfort and mutual understanding is paramount for a productive therapeutic experience. This symbiotic rapport strengthens the effectiveness of the therapeutic process, making it more enriching and fruitful.

Some of the many models of Talking Therapy:

A therapist taking client notes

Solution Focused Therapy.

The approach of solution-centered therapies include a cluster of psychological interventions designed to guide individuals in recognizing and attaining their objectives, placing emphasis on this pursuit rather than dissecting root issues or conditions. This perspective rests on the premise that individuals harbor inherent reservoirs of resources and capabilities to unearth resolutions to their challenges. The therapist, within this framework, functions as a facilitator, enabling this process of discovery and resolution.

Some examples of solution-focused therapies include:

Within the realm of solution-focused frameworks lie several notable instances:

  • Solution-Focused Brief Therapy (SFBT): Anchored in the belief that individuals hold the potential to enact positive change in their lives, SFBT centers around the therapist guiding the individual in recognizing and actualizing their aspirations. Characterized by its brevity, typically spanning 6-20 sessions, SFBT fixates on the present and future, eschewing extensive dwelling on the past.

  • The Envisioned Miracle Scenario: A technique employed in solution-focused therapy, this entails the therapist prompting the client to envisage a world transformed by a miraculous turn of events. This exercise encourages clients to describe how they would perceive, sense, and acknowledge the manifestations of this transformative change.

  • Progress Scaling Queries: In this technique, the therapist gauges the client's advancement and identifies areas necessitating therapeutic focus. The client is asked to evaluate a challenge on a scale of 0 to 10, with 10 representing the gravest scenario, and subsequently, to elucidate what conditions would correspond to scores of 0 or 1.

  • Adaptive Coping Exploration: Employing the Coping Kaleidoscope method, therapists assist clients in discerning their coping mechanisms and cultivating novel adaptive strategies.

  • Brief Strategic Family Therapy (BSFT): Akin to SFBT but tailored for family contexts, BSFT involves the therapist collaborating with families to discern their strengths and resources. Through delineating specific objectives geared towards refining familial interactions and communication, BSFT seeks to foster improvement.

These therapeutic approaches are firmly rooted in factual evidence and enjoy widespread clinical application. They pivot towards the present and future, rather than dwelling on historical narratives, while spotlighting clients' inner strengths and assets. Characterized by their brevity and targeted objectives, they aim to empower clients to chart their own course towards resolving challenges.

Relationship Counselling:

Recognized as couples counseling, relationship counselling stands as a therapeutic avenue directed at augmenting the relational dynamics and communication proficiencies within partnerships. Couples often turn to such counseling for a multitude of motives, inclusing conflict resolution, the elevation of intimacy levels, or the navigation of matters intertwined with trust and commitment.

During these sessions, both partners engage in dialogues concerning their apprehensions, collaboratively engaging with a therapist to blueprint strategies for the enhancement of their bond. The therapist may deploy diverse methodologies such as cognitive-behavioral interventions, emotionally-attuned techniques, and other empirically supported methods, facilitating couples' understanding of their challenges and their subsequent resolution. Further clarification awaits you in another post. Expert Tips for Fixing and Rebuilding Broken Relationships HERE

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT):

A diagram of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy also know as Cognitive Transformation Therapy (CTT) represents a therapeutic approach centered on reshaping unfavorable cognitive and behavioral cycles. As a form of dialogue-based intervention, it operates on the premise that our thoughts, emotions, and actions are interwoven.

CBT homes in on the recognition and revision of detrimental cognitive and behavioral loops, striving to foster mental well-being.

Therapeutic sessions within the CBT framework commonly involve exploring present-day difficulties while pinpointing specific cognitive patterns and behaviors giving rise to challenges. Subsequently, the therapist collaborates with the individual to question and reconfigure these pessimistic thought processes and convictions, fostering the cultivation of fresh, more optimistic modes of thinking.

CBT also encompasses pragmatic techniques for behavioral transformation, including the acquisition of relaxation methods, adept problem-solving tactics, and coping strategies tailored for maneuvering challenging scenarios. The structure of these sessions is often short-term, spanning approximately 12 to 20 weeks, intertwined with regular assignments to apply the acquired proficiencies in practical contexts.

Supported by a powerful body of research, CBT has demonstrated effectiveness in addressing a broad spectrum of psychological conditions, spanning from depression and anxiety disorders to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Additionally, it has showcased utility in aiding those grappling with chronic pain, sleep disorders, and substance misuse.

Distinguished by its factual grounding, CBT remains a structured and pragmatic therapeutic method. It empowers individuals to fathom and reshape the cognitive and behavioral templates engendering their distress, and to cultivate new, more constructive approaches to navigating the challenges of life.

Person Centered Therapy:

Carl Rogers

The hallmark of this approach resides in magnifying the significance of the therapist-patient connection, fostering an environment in which patients are urged to delve into their own sentiments and experiences.

Person-centered therapy, alternatively known as client-centric therapy, was formulated by Carl Rogers during the 1940s and 1950s.

Within person-centric therapy, the therapist cultivates a haven of non-judgmental security, enabling patients to explore their internal landscapes. The therapist partakes actively and empathetically, mirroring back the patient's thoughts and emotions, thereby facilitating the gaining of insights and comprehension.

Steering clear of putting forward counsel or steering the patient's path, the therapist grants the freedom for the patient to reach conclusions and forge choices independently. At the core of the therapist's role lies the provision of solace, empathy, and a support for the patient's journey towards self-awareness and self-acceptance.

Sessions typically center around the patient's immediate concerns, and the therapist urges candid expression of emotions devoid of trepidation for judgment. The therapist further aids in unveiling and comprehending behavioral or emotional patterns that might be entwined with the patient's challenges, and collaboratively strategizes towards positive transformation.

Person-centric therapy is nestled within the humanistic therapeutic realm, underpinned by the conviction that every individual is innately equipped for self-development and self-restoration. Its utility spans a broad spectrum of psychological concerns including depression, anxiety, relationship quandaries, and bolsters self-esteem and self-awareness.

An important facet to acknowledge is that person-centric therapy typically unfurls as a protracted therapeutic voyage. It often spans several months, or even years, with weekly or bi-weekly engagements.

Psychoanalytic Therapy:

Sigmund Freud Psychoanalytic therapy

Psychoanalytic therapy or Depth-centered therapy is a type of psychological intervention that focuses on delving into the recesses of unconscious thoughts and sentiments that could be triggering emotional unease. Rooted in the teachings of Sigmund Freud and his successors, this approach proposes that much of our conduct and emotional realm is shaped by prior experiences and latent urges and tensions.

A therapist operating within the psychodynamic framework usually spurs the patient to converse about their thoughts, emotions, and encounters. This dialogue aims to unveil hidden trends and clashes that might be giving rise to disruptions in their life's narrative. The therapist further scrutinizes the patient's thoughts and sentiments during sessions to glean insights into the labyrinthine landscape of the unconscious psyche.

The therapeutic process might include techniques like free association, wherein the patient is prompted to openly talk about whatever thoughts arise, as well as dream analysis and transference, where emotions and sentiments may be projected onto the therapist.

Psychoanalytic dynamic therapy proves beneficial in addressing a broad spectrum of psychological issues, encompassing depression, anxiety, and relational predicaments. It often operates in synergy with other therapeutic modalities, like cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT).

It's paramount to recognize that psychodynamic therapy usually unfurls as a sustained journey. It typically spans multiple months, or even years, involving weekly or bi-weekly interactions.

Family Therapy:

A family therapy session

The approach of family therapy centers on the intricate interplay within familial structures, with the intention of tackling concerns that might be affecting individual members.

Family therapy, a method within psychological intervention, entails collaborative work with individuals within a family unit. Its objectives encompass refining communication, resolving conflicts, and fostering comprehension and mutual support among family members. Anchored in the belief that individuals are not merely the sum of their individual parts, but rather intricately interconnected entities, this approach acknowledges the pivotal role of family dynamics in nurturing mental well-being.

There are different approaches to family therapy, but some of the common techniques include:

Structured Therapy:

Structured as a means to enhance communication and functioning, the structural refinement approach emerged through the collaborative efforts of Salvador Minuchin and colleagues during the 1970s.

Within this framework, the therapist adopts a systems perspective, viewing the family as an intricate web where each member embodies a distinct role, intertwined with specific boundaries that delineate their relational connections. The therapist's role includes assisting the family in pinpointing interaction and communication patterns that give rise to challenges, subsequently collaborating to reshape these patterns. This transformation might involve adjusting familial roles and boundaries, or altering the manner in which family members engage.

The bedrock of structural therapy rests on the belief that altering the family's foundational structure can catalyze shifts in how members interact and communicate. This approach often finds application in cases where families possess an unyielding and inflexible structure, or when the boundaries between members remain obscured.

Structural therapy integrates techniques such as family mapping, merging with the family, and addressing resistance. Family mapping entails diagramming the family's structure, encompassing relationships and communication patterns. Merging involves the therapist aligning with one or more family members to aid in comprehending and altering their interactions. Addressing resistance entails the therapist guiding the family through barriers to change.

Structural therapy extends its utility across a broad spectrum of issues, spanning relationship dynamics, parenting challenges, and psychological well-being. Often harmonized with other therapeutic methodologies, it enriches its effectiveness


Strategic therapy:

Strategic therapy stands as a variant of family therapy that centers on adept problem-solving, goal establishment, and equipping family members with tailored techniques to elevate their interactions. The approach was cultivated by Jay Haley, Cloe Madanes, and collaborators during the 1970s.

This methodology is set in the notion that families grapple with distinct issues that can be characterized and addressed.

The therapist assumes an active role in guiding the family through the process of identifying and surmounting these issues. Collaboratively, the therapist and family delineate lucid, well-defined objectives, followed by the imparting of specialized techniques designed to achieve these goals. Additionally, the therapist aids in unearthing interaction and communication patterns that are contributing to difficulties, working alongside the family to reconfigure these patterns.

The therapist often employs strategies such as reframing, paradoxical interventions, and direct counsel. Reframing entails guiding the family to perceive a predicament from an alternative vantage point, thus altering their cognitive perspective and outlook.

Paradoxical interventions include techniques wherein the therapist assigns the family tasks or instructions that appear to oppose the prevailing problem. This approach aims to induce a shift in their cognitive interpretation of the issue.

Additionally, there exists the method of direct guidance, wherein the therapist imparts explicit advice and instructions to the family regarding problem resolution.

Strategic therapy The use of strategic therapy frequently finds its footing in addressing distinct challenges within families. Predominantly, issues involving communication hurdles, relational intricacies, and behavioral complexities are targeted. This approach is characterized by its succinctness and guidance-driven nature, emphasizing precise objectives and well-defined strides toward their attainment.

However, it's crucial to acknowledge that strategic therapy is not as prevalent as other variants of family therapy. Moreover, it doesn't garner consensus as an evidence-based therapeutic approach among many experts in the field. Some critics contend that its directive nature might overshadow the emotional and psychological dimensions inherent to family dynamics.

Behavioural therapy:

This method is centered on the alteration of particular behaviors within a family unit, alongside the distribution of fresh abilities to enhance interactions. Typically involving the participation of all family members, individual sessions might be introduced if deemed requisite. It's worth highlighting that Behavioral Therapy diverges from CBT (as discussed earlier).

In conclusion, family therapy emerges as a valuable resource across a diverse spectrum of challenges, spanning from relational quandaries to psychological well-being concerns and navigating the complexities of crises or significant life transitions.

Group Therapy:

A male group therapy session

Group Therapy involves the gathering of individuals, potentially within a professional setting, who share akin challenges or concerns. Guided by a proficient therapist or facilitator, this approach is rooted in the conviction that individuals stand to gain by exchanging their experiences and perspectives.

Within the realm of group therapy, participants are urged to openly express their thoughts and sentiments within a nurturing and confidential environment. Fellow group members can offer mutual input, bolstering encouragement and emotional sustenance, while also benefiting from the accumulated wisdom of others. The therapist or facilitator oversees the group's proceedings, steering discussions, and maintaining focus on the designated subject matter.

Within the area of Group Therapy, various methods exist, including


Interaction-Exploration Collectives: These assemblies center their focus on the dynamics and interplay among participants, prioritizing the group's synergy over addressing specific quandaries.

Empathetic Cohorts: These gatherings serve as a platform for individuals to candidly exchange their journey and emotions with peers who are navigating akin struggles.

Knowledge-Infused Collectives: These groups serve as hubs for information and enlightenment on specific themes, such as managing stress, navigating chronic health issues, or addressing particular mental well-being concerns.

Skill Cultivation Gatherings: These assemblies foster the acquisition of targeted competencies, ranging from assertiveness to stress mitigation and problem-solving.

Group collaborative support has the potential to be of assistance across a wide array of circumstances, spanning mental well-being afflictions, relational intricacies, and the navigation of life-altering junctures. Additionally, it can serve as a channel for those who may experience feelings of isolation or disconnection, extending an opportunity to connect with kindred spirits who share akin experiences.

It is vital to recognize that group collaborative support is not universally suited, and certain individuals may lean toward individualized therapeutic approaches. The appropriateness of group support is best determined through a therapist's assessment of an individual's needs.

What are mindfulness based therapies?

Mindfulness-based therapies include an array of psychological interventions rooted in the bedrock of mindfulness philosophy. Mindfulness, in essence, represents a state of engaged, receptive attentiveness directed toward the present instant. It entails redirecting focus from past reflections or future apprehensions, nudging individuals to hone in on the current moment—attuned to prevailing thoughts, emotions, and physical sensations, all devoid of evaluative judgments.

A spectrum of mindful-centered methods exists, including:

Mindfulness-Embedded Tension Alleviation (META): Forged by Jon Kabat-Zinn, this eight-week curriculum weaves mindfulness meditation and yoga, aiming to equip individuals with tools for stress and pain management, along with handling various medical challenges.

Mindfulness-Infused Cognitive Harmony (MICH): Developed by Zindel Segal, Mark Williams, and John Teasdale, MICH converges cognitive therapy with mindfulness practices, serving as a deterrent against relapses for individuals with a history of depression.

Acceptance and Action Equilibrium (AAE): A hallmark of AAE is guiding individuals to embrace challenging thoughts and sentiments, refraining from suppression or eradication, and instead, aligning actions with personal values.

Dialectic Fusion Mastery (DFM): Marsha Linehan's brainchild, DFM amalgamates cognitive-behavioral therapy with mindfulness strategies, earmarked for addressing conditions marked by fervent emotions and impulsive tendencies, such as Borderline Personality Disorder.

Empathy-Cultivating Fusion (ECF): Nurtured by Paul Gilbert, ECF fuses mindfulness and empathy cultivation, tailored to aid those grappling with self-critique and shame.

These therapies have been found to be effective in treating a wide range of mental health issues, including anxiety, depression, stress, and chronic pain. They can also be helpful for improving overall well-being, promoting self-awareness, and increasing emotional regulation.

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR):

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR):

EMDR stands as a psychotherapeutic method designed to aid individuals in processing distressing memories through orchestrated eye movements.

Rooted in assisting those who've endured trauma or distressing events, EMDR operates on the premise that such experiences can trigger memories to become lodged within the mind, continuing to elicit emotional turmoil.

The mechanics of EMDR involve employing eye movements or other bilateral stimulations (like tapping or sound) to facilitate the processing and amalgamation of traumatic memories. The therapist steers the individual's focus towards a specific traumatic memory during the concurrent bilateral stimulation. The objective is to help the individual integrate the traumatic memory, ultimately alleviating the associated emotional distress.

Underpinning EMDR is the Adaptive Information Processing (AIP) framework, which posits that the therapy mimics the brain's handling of regular memories, thus promoting trauma resolution. Furthermore, AIP proposes that the bilateral stimulation might activate the brain's inherent healing mechanisms, nurturing the cultivation of new, adaptive responses to the traumatic memory.

EMDR has showcased effectiveness across a spectrum of conditions including Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), anxiety, depression, phobias, and other traumatic experiences. It garners recognition as an evidence-grounded therapeutic method within the professional domain. Generally conducted through individual sessions, the number of sessions is contingent on the specifics of each case.

It's important to note that EMDR therapy should only be conducted by a trained and certified EMDR therapist. This is to ensure that the therapy is done safely and effectively.

Clinical Hypnotherapy:

Clinical Hypnotherapy stands as a psychological modality harnessing hypnosis for healing purposes. Hypnosis entails achieving a state of profound relaxation coupled with heightened responsiveness, permitting access to the subconscious realm. Guiding the individual into this state, the therapist employs suggestions to facilitate constructive alterations in their cognition, emotions, and actions.

Clinical hypnotherapy is used to treat a wide range of issues, including:

  • Anxiety, phobias, and other emotional disorders

  • Smoking cessation, weight loss, and other habits

  • Pain management

  • Insomnia

  • Addictions

  • Stress

  • Depression

During a hypnotherapy session, the practitioner initiates by conducting a comprehensive evaluation of the individual's concerns, history, and aspirations.

Subsequently, the practitioner adeptly steers the individual into a state of hypnosis through soothing discourse, gently nurturing relaxation and imaginative engagement. Once immersed in this state, the practitioner imparts tailored suggestions aimed at addressing the individual's challenges.

For instance, if the aim is to overcome smoking habits, the practitioner might suggest the gradual waning of cigarette cravings or the evolution of cigarette taste to repulsion.

It's vital to acknowledge that Clinical hypnotherapy is endorsed as an evidence-supported approach for select conditions by specific professionals within the domain. However, it's imperative to recognize that hypnotherapy isn't universally suited and necessitates a trained, licensed expert well-versed in its nuances. A skilled practitioner customizes the treatment to match individual requirements and collaborates with the individual to define pragmatic objectives.

Guided Meditation:

Guided Meditation refers to a meditation variant wherein an individual is led by a vocal guide or pre-recorded session through a sequence of cognitive exercises with a designated objective or mental state in mind. This guided journey encompasses directives related to controlled breathing, imaginative visualization, and methods of unwinding. The intent of this practice may encompass stress alleviation, enhanced concentration, or the fostering of holistic equilibrium.

In summary, understanding the various types of therapies can be overwhelming, but by carefully studying the information in this article and considering your needs and goals, and then doing further research on the specific techniques that align with them, I hope you can find the most effective form of therapy for you.

Since stepping away from offering face-to-face therapy sessions, I've been focusing on creating and recording generic, downloadable, Self-Hypnosis and Guided Meditation sessions to help with a variety of issues such as fears, phobias, unwanted habits and addictions, personal growth and overall wellness. If you're interested in learning more, be sure to check out the main section of my website for more information and resources HERE

I hope this article has provided you with a clearer understanding of what therapy is and how it can help you.

Sharon Shinwell Psychotherapist and Hypnotherapist

"This article represents the personal views and opinions of the author and should not be taken as representative of the official policy or position of any organization, professional, expert, or individual."


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