How to choose the right therapist or psychologist to provide psychological counselling?

Choosing the right psychologist to work with successfully toward achieving your therapeutic goals is crucial.

First of all, ask about the qualifications of the therapist/ psychologist, their previous experience with clients and possibly the field of specialization.

As an academic basis for his training in specific psychotherapy, the therapists are required to have a university degree, which is most often in the field of Psychology, but there are also therapists who have a medical education, majoring in Psychiatry. Ideally, the therapist has a degree in Clinical Psychology or Psychiatry. Upgrading training is a training in a specific psychotherapeutic modality, which is conducted by members of The Bulgarian association of Psychotherapy Българската Асоциация по Психотерапия организации, who in turn are associate members of the relevant international organizations. There are also therapists who have formed themselves as psychotherapists abroad.

Counselling can be provided by qualified professionals with an academic degree in Psychology, Bachelor or Master.

In terms of specialization, it is recommended that there is a match between the profiling of the psychologist in relation to the groups of clients he/ she works with and the profile of the client/ clients seeking help. For example, some psychologists specialize in individual counselling for adults, others in counselling couples, and still others in counselling children and adolescents, which includes counselling parents. There are therapists who have several specializations.

While most psychologists work with mood and affective disorders (mania, depression), neurotic disorders (phobia, anxiety, obsessive-compusive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder) and personality disorders, when it comes to severe and major eating disorders (anorexia, bulimia) or addiction to psychoactive substances (alcohol and drugs), the best choice would be a closely specialized therapist. The same applies to problems related to sexual dysfunction, in which narrow specialization is of great importance.

Another criterion which you may consider when choosing a therapist is your personal affinity for a certain type of psychotherapeutic modality (type of psychotherapy).

If you define yourself as a rational type of person and it is important for you to focus on what is happening "here and now", you would probably fit better with a therapist in the field of short-term therapies and cognitive-behavioral psychotherapy.

If you are the type of person to whom emotions and affects as motivational factors for human behavior matter a lot and you are prone to seeing childhood and relationships with parental figures as defining your development as a person, then you should rather seek a therapist or counselor in the psychodynamic field.

If you are more philosophically-minded and seeking to understand the meaning of life and the life events you are going through, probably the best choice for you would be existential psychotherapy.

Most psychologists agree that an important factor in deciding whether to work with a particular psychologist is the level of personal comfort with that person.

Once you are cleared out the purely formal criteria for choosing your therapist or counselor, you need to answer the most important question: Can I work with this therapist? How would I feel with this psychologist when discussing sensitive topics and issues? Could I share with him / her my own experiences, feelings, thoughts that I have not shared with anyone else?

Should the therapy be effective and should you benefit from it, it is necessary to feel comfortable when discussing any issues of a more personal and general nature, so that you can speak openly on topics that are important to you.

In this sense, it is important to ask yourself which characteristics of the therapist and his personality can contribute to your level of comfort?

  • do you prefer to work with a male or female therapist?
  • does the age of the therapist matter to you
  • does his/her ethnicity and religious orientation matter

The best advice in this case is to take advantage of a trial session with the therapist. Then you will be able to identify certain topics that you will want to discuss with him, so as to gather information about the therapist's personality and his own life position on certain topics.

What does the outcome of the therapy depend on?

A number of scientific research give evidence about the central role of the therapeutic relationship in regard to the benefits of the therapy.

The outcome of psychotherapy depends to a much greater extent on the therapeutic relationship between the therapist and the client than the specific type of psychotherapy.

In 2014, a specially formed Task force at the APA conducted a study, according to which

"The therapy relationship makes substantial and consistent contributions to psychotherapy outcome independent of the specific type of treatment.".“