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HOW TO FIND A GOOD THERAPIST

Suicide is the biggest killer of men under the age of fifty.  Three out of four suicides in the UK are carried out by men.  Yet only a reported 36% of men who suffer with a mental illness seek professional help.

Given that every one of us is likely to struggle with some form of mental illness in our lifetime, where do you fit into those stats?  Are you fighting off anxiety and depression right now?  Are you suffering ongoing, low moods?  Are you fearful of the future and feel as though you’ve completely lost your joy?

If so, it’s time to look for help.  You need to speak to someone and start on your path back to mental wellness.

How do you find a good therapist, though?  We’ve all heard of the ‘quack’ shrinks and the do-gooders … does counselling really work?  What’s more, if you’re like a lot of other men, you don’t know how to talk in an ‘opened up’ sort of way in any case.  How is a complete stranger going to be able to help you do that?  It’s bad enough feeling the way you do now without your throwing money at it, too, right?

Newsflash:  counselling can and very often does work.  Leave the ‘opening up’ bit to your counsellor to worry about.  Just find him or her and book your first session.  Here’s how …

1)    ASK AROUND

This is the obvious place to start.  You don’t have to tell the world what you’re going through (besides, opening up isn’t your strong point anyway, right?) but given the stats, about three quarters of your male circle of colleagues and friends have experienced depression or anxiety, too.  A third of them have sought professional help.

Choose someone whom you trust and say, “I’m considering counselling.  Is there someone you know who’s done this that might be able to give me a name?”  That way, you’re opening up a little about yourself (everybody loves to feel confided in) and you’re avoiding putting them on the spot to feel that they have to open up too – although you’re offering them a chance to do so.

2)    BE PREPARED TO TRAVEL

Finding the right person to help you through this is a personal investment.  It’s no good finding just any old person who pops up on a local online search.  Be prepared to travel to see the right one.  It’s not to say that the right one definitely won’t be local to you; if they’re not, though, you need to be committed to doing this for yourself and prepared to put out a bit.

3)    TAKE NOTE OF THEIR ONLINE PRESENCE

How are the therapists you’re researching online presenting themselves?  The ones whom you should avoid wave their own red flags inadvertently.  Pay attention to that small voice of intuition if they advertise online with glamour shots, hard sell advertisement copy (you know the kind) or pictures of themselves on speedboats, snowboarding, hot air ballooning or anything else that speaks more about their lifestyle than their patients’ issues.

4)    TAKE THE FREE, ‘TRY OUT’ CONSULTATION

Many counsellors offer a free, fifteen-minute conversation in the first instance to find out what you need and to see if the ‘fit’ between the two of you is right.  Take it – it’s the most practical way for you to find out without investment if this is the right support for you.

5)    ASK QUESTIONS

During that initial call, make sure you ask the important questions.  What are their qualifications?  Are they licensed?  (Note that many counsellors are not, although in the UK particularly counselling practice is well-regulated.)   What is their field?  There are several that you can read about here[1] – cognitive, mindfulness, existential, gestalt … the list is seemingly endless but a counsellor worth his or her salt will be able to advise you which would be a good option for you.

6)    TUNE INTO YOUR OWN INSTINCTS

When you’re in the early stages of seeing a therapist or counsellor, make sure that you tune in to how you’re feeling about the process.  Of course, it’s likely to feel awkward in the first instance as you’re not accustomed to talking about your feelings and thoughts yet; put that aside for now, though, and focus on whether you feel comfortable with the person you’re talking to.

Are they warm, accommodating and paying close attention to you?  What is their body language like?  How does the room feel?  Is it welcoming and restful, or is it adorned with awards, certificates and more of those infernal glamour shots and pictures of their latest safari trip?

Remember, this is supposed to be about you, not them.

7)    GIVE THE PROCESS TIME

Once you’ve had a look around and chatted with a few different therapists you should be ready to try out one for long enough to make an informed decision.  Do you stay with them or do you resume your search?

It’s perfectly alright if you do – this is a part of the process.  What’s not alright is your giving up if you don’t find someone straight away.  Remember – it’s your mental health that’s on the line:  you have promised yourself to invest some time, effort and money if need be to give yourself the help that you definitely need.

Healing is not going to happen overnight.  Recovering from depression and dealing with a pattern of anxious thoughts takes time.  Sometimes it takes months, sometimes years … for everyone it’s different.

You can and will recover, though.  You’re taking the right steps to see to it that you do.  You’re in good company, too.  With a little research and a bit of courage to start talking, you’ll discover many other men who’ve discovered and proved that depression does not have to become a death sentence.

[1] https://www.talkspace.com/blog/different-types-therapy-psychotherapy-best/

 

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