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When clinical trials compare the effectiveness of different therapeutic schools and approaches, the results are very interesting. Many studies have concluded that the difference in effectiveness between psychological therapies is minimal, however, when you examine the data, it’s clear that there are clear differences in effectiveness between different therapists, regardless of which therapy approach they practice. 

The way an individual therapist practices is more important than the approach to therapy they were trained in. So, if you are seeking an effective therapist, it’s crucial to understand what to look for.

What makes a good therapist? This checklist will help you and people you know protect yourselves from potentially harmful types of therapy and counseling. An effective counselor or therapist:

  • Knows how to build rapport quickly with distressed people— understands depression and how to lift it
  • Will help you think about your problems in new and more empowering ways
  • Uses a wide range of techniques as appropriate— may ask you to do therapeutic work between sessions
  • Helps immediately with anxietyproblems - including trauma or fear related symptoms
  • Is prepared to give advice if needed or asked for— will not use jargon or ‘psychobabble’ or tell you that counseling or psychotherapy has to be ‘painful’
  • Will include your past life experiences only if appropriate to your healing
  • Will be supportive when difficult feelings emerge, but will not encourage you to get emotional beyond the normal need to reconstruct or ‘let go’ of any repressed negative feelings
  • May assist you to develop your interpersonal skills so that your needs for affection, friendship, pleasure, intimacy, connection to the wider community etc. can be better fulfilled
  • Will help you to draw and build on your own resources (which may prove greater than you thought!)
  • Will help you increase your self confidence and independence and make sure you feel better after every consultation.
  • Will be considerate of the effects of counseling with regard to the people close to you
  • Will teach you to relax deeply
  • Will take as few or as many sessions as necessary
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