Choosing a therapist

If you are feeling low or having difficulty thinking clearly it can be hard to take that initial step toward finding a psychotherapist and phoning for an appointment. This website has a register of NZAP psychotherapists, their regions, modalities and contact details. This is a good starting point for finding suitably qualified and experienced people in your area. Many psychotherapists also have websites that will give more information about their modalities, qualifications and experience.

You might also look for recommendations from a friend, family member, a General Practitioner or other health professional. However, you may prefer to find someone yourself, so you know that the psychotherapist is not seeing other people in your social network. By phoning psychotherapists and asking them about their experience and areas of interest hopefully you will find someone with whom you feel rapport. Most of us can recognise authentic, warm, relational and intelligent responses when we hear them. It can be a good idea to speak to or make an initial appointment with a few psychotherapists so you have some comparative choice.

Psychotherapists will often suggest one or two sessions in order to understand a little more about you and to make an assessment of whether they can be of use to you. This can also be a good opportunity for you to see how comfortable you are with the psychotherapist’s presence, the quality of their listening, their attitude towards you and whether you are responding well to their comments and questions. Observe how you are feeling towards the psychotherapist and the setting. You may not have any tangible reason for liking one psychotherapist and not another, but rapport and developing a good therapeutic alliance are vital in a healing conversation so trust your intuition.

Remember to ask about availability, fees, cancellation policies and how they manage holiday leave. Ask about professional membership, registration and if they are registered as providers for ACC or an EAP – the Employee Assistance Program at your workplace – scheme if that is important. Signs that your psychotherapist is keeping up with research and evidence-based treatments are good. You might also ask them how they deal with conflict as the ability to mend ruptures in relationship and to tolerate anxiety are valuable. If you are feeling seen and heard by the end of the session, if you have a new insight or viewpoint, or leave feeling a little more hopeful, that has to be a good thing.