If you’re thinking about therapy, you’re not alone. Millions of people seek therapy each year to help them with a variety of mental health issues, including anxiety, depression, and stress. But what if you’re not sure if therapy is right for you? Or, if you are sure that therapy is right for you, but you have concerns about the cost, effectiveness, communication, privacy, or accessibility of therapy?
Here are five common concerns about therapy and how to address them:
Cost is probably the number one barrier to people accessing the therapy that is best for them, i.e. the service they would choose if money wasn’t a barrier. Some people struggle to even comprehend being able to afford therapy at all, especially in the midst of a cost of living crisis.
Suggestion: mention any concerns you have about what you can or can’t afford at the very first point of contact with any potential therapist. Be clear about your needs are and what is manageable for you. All therapists should be willing to address this directly with you. If the therapist can not offer therapy at a price that works for you then they should at least acknowledge this and/or suggest some other therapists/organisations who might suit your budget. They may also have a sliding scale which they could offer you, or they might come to an agreement with you. For example, if you’ve recently been made redundant then they might offer you a reduced rate until you find another job and can afford to pay their higher fee. No therapist should shy away from talking openly about money. If you can’t afford therapy at all, which many people can’t, then you do have some options. You can access Talking Therapies via the NHS – your GP surgery will have details on how to access you local service. There are often local charities who offer therapy, such as Rape Crisis Centres and MIND (although waiting lists can be long), and there is the Free Therapy Network who may be able to help.
2. Effectiveness of therapy
“Will it work?” is a question many people ask themselves when looking for a new therapist. It is, after all, an often expensive investment to make for yourself.
Suggestion: talk to your therapist about what your expectations are and what you aim to achieve from therapy, what your goals are. You should feel comfortable enough with any therapist (it’s the therapists job to ensure you feel comfortable!) to raise any concerns you have. Your therapist should listen to your concerns and help you to move forward in a way that is best for you. Ask your therapist if you can try a few sessions to see if they are a good fit before you ‘commit’ to the process. You can also ask how they will support you to move on if you don’t feel they are the right therapist for you. Remember a therapist should always work with your best interests in mind, and if they’re not the right person for you then they should be open to supporting you to find someone who is.
It’s not uncommon for us to hear from clients about contacting potential therapists who they never hear back from, not even so much as an acknowledgment of their email! We believe this is poor practice. Even if a therapist has no availability, they should never ignore it when anyone reaches out to them.
Suggestion: in your initial email you could consider writing something similar to the following: ‘I have been struggling to find a therapist, and many have not responded to me. If you have no availability, I would appreciate it if you could make any suggestions about what my next steps might be. Thank you.’ We know this is frustrating, but it may help.
4. Privacy and confidentiality
Understandably, many people worry about the privacy and confidentiality of their therapy sessions. As a rule of thumb EVERYTHING you tell your therapist should be confidential with a few exceptions. Firstly, all UK based therapists will usually tell you that they might have to disclose what you tell them if they believe you or someone else is at real risk of harm. This shouldn’t involve talking about suicidal thoughts/feelings or even about self harm – you should have somewhere safe to explore those thoughts and feelings – but only if you intended to act on it. This would also apply to information shared about any child being harmed. Aside from this, all therapists should receive clinical supervision to ensure they are working safely and ethically and so they may speak to their supervisor about your work together. Aside from these two reasons, therapists should never talk to anyone about you unless you ask them to. For example, you asked them to write a letter for support for a disability benefit. If a therapist ever did feel they needed to break your confidence then they should, when possible, speak to you first before they do so.
Suggestion: if you have concerns about this then ask your therapist what their policies are about privacy and confidentiality and to give some examples of how they will protect your personal information. Most therapists will have a ‘client contact’ which covers this which you can ask to see before you meet with them. Also, feel free to ask your therapist how your information is protected should they be using third part Apps.
Many clients experience difficulties accessing the therapy services they need. This can be due to many factors regarding the suitability of a therapist. For therapy to work for you, it is important that you find a therapist who best ‘fits’ your needs, and all therapists should be open to talking with you about this. It is okay to seek out a therapist who is Black, Gay, Trans, working class, disabled, etc. It is acceptable to want to work with someone who understands your culture, background, sexuality, etc. and who you think will be able to relate to your personal circumstances best. It is okay to want a therapist who ‘gets’ your social and political needs as well as your emotional ones. After all, the two are often intertwined. Other factors relating to accessibility include cost, disability and lack of availability when living in rural or remote areas.
Suggestion: be open from the first contact with any potential therapist about what you require from therapy. Any therapist should be comfortable discussing this openly with you and be able to provide suggestions on where to go next if YOU decide they are not the best option for you.
Therapy can be a valuable tool for improving your mental health and well-being. If you’re struggling, don’t hesitate to reach out for help.
Here are some additional tips for addressing your concerns about therapy:
- Do your research. There are many different types of therapy, so it’s important to do some research to find a therapist who is a good fit for you. Our article ‘How to choose a therapist’ can help.
- Ask questions. Once you’ve found a therapist, don’t be afraid to ask questions. Ask about their experience, their qualifications, their approach to therapy, and their fees. You should feel comfortable talking about your concerns with your therapist.
- Trust your gut. If you’re not comfortable with a therapist, it’s okay to find someone else. Therapy is a personal journey, and it’s important to find a therapist who you feel comfortable and safe with.
If you’re struggling, don’t hesitate to reach out to one of our therapists here on the UK Counsellors directory – click here to find a therapist who is suitable for you.
Remember, you’re not alone. Millions of people seek therapy each year, and it can be a valuable tool for improving your mental health and well-being.