Choosing a therapist

Choosing a therapist can be a daunting task. So many things can go wrong, but so much depends on choosing the right one. Here are some guidelines and questions that may help, with the purpose of the question underlined in brackets after each question. These are a composite of ideas from survivors about what things are important, and from therapists. At the bottom of the page, there is a link to an article explaining different types of therapy.

  1. Have you had experience dealing with victims of sexual abuse? What has that experience been? Have you also had training in this area? What training? (how qualified are they?)

  2. Have you had clients go through legal proceedings? (are they going to hang in with you?)

  3. What's the longest time you have treated a client for sexual abuse? (anything less than a year is possibly too short, anything longer than 5 years is possibly too long)

  4. Ask the therapist if they will have a brief interview with you (about 15-20 mins) free of charge so you can decide whether you feel comfortable with them. (are they prepared to put your needs ahead of "business"?)

  5. What therapy technique do you use? (eg. Gestalt, EMDR, cognitive behavioural therapy, body therapy, etc.) You may not know what that technique entails, but you'll be able to find out just by going to the local library and doing some reading. More information on therapy techniques can be found in the article link at the bottom of this page (are you comfortable with the therapy technique/s they use?)

  6. Do you have clinical supervision? (ie. does the therapist have a supervisor who they can debrief with? That doesn't mean the supervisor is in the room with you during therapy, but it does indicate a therapist who's committed to ethics)

In asking the above questions, possibly the most important thing is the way they respond, rather than what they say. A good therapist is going to be encouraged by you asking, not threatened.

Other considerations:

For some other considerations, and further questions you might wish to ask, check out this link from a site dedicated to exposing the issues around sexual molestation by professionals.

Here's a link to an article on types of therapy,  types of therapist, and why do it. By Cynthia Hickman, a psychologist in Melbourne. Published in International WellBeing, no.76, 1999.

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