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  • Writer's pictureDr Sarah Bishop

Navigating the Path to Healing: A Compassionate Guide to Choosing the Right Therapist for You

Embarking on the journey of self-discovery and healing through therapy is a courageous and transformative step. However, the process of finding the right therapist can be overwhelming. The diverse landscape of mental health professionals, including clinical psychologists, counsellors, and therapists, might leave you wondering which path to take. In this guide, we'll explore the unique qualities of each profession to help you make an informed decision that aligns with your individual needs and goals.

Understanding the Professions:

1. Clinical Psychologists:

Clinical psychologists are highly trained professionals who specialise in the assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of mental health related issues. With advanced degrees (usually a Ph.D. or Psy.D.), they undergo extensive clinical training. Clinical psychologists use evidence-based therapeutic approaches and may work in various settings, including hospitals, private practices, or research institutions. On average, a Clinical Psychologist has 10 years experience before qualifying.

Why Choose a Clinical Psychologist?

  • Expertise in understanding and providing therapy for a wide range of mental health issues.

  • Experience working in a wide range of complex mental health settings

  • Specialised knowledge in psychological testing and assessment.

  • Ability to integrate research findings into therapeutic interventions.

  • Knowledge of a range of therapeutic models which can be integrated and tailored to provide the best fit for the client.

PLEASE NOTE: The term "Clinical Psychologist" is a title protected by law. However, anyone can call themselves a "Psychologist" as it is a general term meaning someone who has studied psychology. It does not give an indication of qualifications, skill, credentials or experience. Any suitably qualified professional would be happy to provide you with evidence of this, so always ask if you are unsure.

2. Counsellors:

Counsellors, often referred to as mental health counsellors or licensed professional counsellors (LPCs), should hold qualifications in counselling or a related field. They work with individuals, couples, and families, providing support and guidance for various life challenges. Counsellors may use a range of therapeutic techniques, including talk therapy, cognitive-behavioural therapy, and solution-focused approaches.

Why Choose a Counsellor?

  • Focus on listening empathically and in a non-judgemental way;

  • Emphasis on addressing life challenges and improving coping skills.

  • Approachable and person-centered, fostering a supportive therapeutic relationship.

3. Therapists:

The term "therapist" is a broad category encompassing professionals from diverse backgrounds, including social workers, marriage and family therapists, and licensed professional counsellors. Their approach may vary, and they may work in a variety of settings.

Why Choose a Therapist?

  • You know the specific model of therapy you'd like to work from (for example CBT)

  • Holistic focus on overall well-being and personal growth.

PLEASE NOTE: The term "therapist" is not a protected title and can be used by anyone. Please check the credentials, qualifications and experience of anyone you are thinking of working with.

Choosing the Right Fit:

1. **Consider Your Goals:**

Reflect on your specific needs and goals for therapy. Are you seeking help for a specific mental health condition, navigating a life transition, or simply looking for personal growth? Different professionals may be better suited to address specific concerns.

2. **Therapeutic Approach:

Research the therapeutic approaches used by each professional. Whether you're interested in cognitive-behavioral therapy, psychodynamic therapy, or mindfulness-based approaches, finding a therapist whose methods resonate with you is crucial.

3. **Credentials and Experience:**

Verify the credentials of potential therapists and their experience in working with issues similar to yours. Consider seeking recommendations from friends, family, or healthcare professionals.

4. **Connection and Comfort:

The therapeutic relationship is a significant predictor of success in therapy. Trust your instincts and choose a therapist with whom you feel a connection. Feeling comfortable and understood is essential for the therapeutic process to unfold.


Embarking on the therapeutic journey is a personal and transformative experience. Whether you choose a clinical psychologist, counsellor, or therapist, the key is to find a professional who aligns with your unique needs and goals. Remember, the most important factor in successful therapy is the quality of the therapeutic relationship. Take the time to explore your options, ask questions, and prioritize your well-being on this path to healing.

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