Updated: Dec 8, 2020
When it comes to seeking and selecting counselling in Ballymena then there are a lot of options with many different types of counselling specialists and indeed many fantastic Ballymena counsellors and therapists.
So the question is how do I chose the right counsellor or therapist for me? Here are my top five recommendations on selecting the right counsellor in Ballymena, Ballymoney, Antrim, Magherafelt and indeed across Northern Ireland:
Tip 1 - Ensure you are working with a registered counsellor or therapist. You wouldn't send your car to the mechanic without checking credentials first so how much more important is this! Thankfully there are just a few large and credible counselling and therapy bodies out there and so my Tip 1 is to ensure that you only seek counselling in Ballymena and across Northern Ireland from counsellors registered with one of these bodies. Bodies such as:
www.bacp.co.uk (British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy)
www.psychotherapy.org.uk (UKCP UK Counsel for Psychotherapy)
iacp.ie (Irish Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy)
www.playtherapy.org.uk (Play Therapy United Kingdom)
www.bapt.info (British Association of Play Therapists)
https://nationalcounsellingsociety.org (National Counselling Society)
You can also access registered counsellors from counselling directories such as:
www.psychologytoday.com/ Click on find a counsellor and type in Ballymena.
Note: Heart Thoughts Counselling www.heartthoughts.co.uk operates as a registered member of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy and as such you can be sure we have been professionally trained and operate within a professional ethical framework. Excellence matters!
Tip 2 - Relationship is king when selecting your counsellor or therapist. There is something very special about two people coming together with a focused purpose and especially when these two people, client and counsellor, sense a real "therapeutic alliance". That's a posh phrase for a connection built on trust and where the client really feels listened to and "got" by the counsellor or therapist. My recommendation is that if after the first session you don't already really sense the possibility for this kind of trusting and therapeutic relationship then feel free to try elsewhere. Within most counsellors contracts it will state that the client and counsellor have the right to stop the therapy at any time and I always tell my clients that I'd rather they were with the right counsellor for them. Bottom line - Relationship matters. Although no one has chosen to leave me yet :-)
Tip 3 - Choosing a specialism. There are so many reasons for wanting to see a counsellor. Experiences of low self-worth, fear, anxiety, grief, sadness, anger, loss, depression, loneliness, abuse, separation, trauma, confusion and shame are sadly very common. It's important that your counsellor has the right training and just the right training to help you! At Heart Thoughts Counselling I specialise in late teenagers and adults but if you are looking for counselling for younger children, younger teens or couples counselling then these are separate specialisms and always check that your counsellor is qualified and experienced in these areas. Again, the directories and bodies above should be a great source of checking you have the right person!
Tip 4 - Counselling In-person or online? So in today's modern age you don't have to be in the same room! Whilst there is lots to be said for real presence rather than virtual counselling there may be practical reasons why this isn't possible or indeed you may even like the idea of initially starting some sessions online until you feel more comfortable. Today there is simply a great deal more choice. Personally, I choose to offer online counselling and I see clients this way across Northern Ireland but I also love the in-person counselling that I deliver in Ballymena. The choice is yours and you have plenty of it!
Tip 5 - Accessing the service - GP, Charity or Private? Finally you have to find a way to receive the counselling service. Heart Thoughts counselling takes private work and GP referral but if neither of these are possible then there are plenty of 121 and group mental health charities out there. The tips above all still apply regardless of how you access counselling.
Obviously there is nothing better overall than a referral from a past client. Check out www.heartthoughts.co.uk and click on "journeys" to see some of my past clients testimonies. The more we can talk about mental health the better so don't be afraid to ask friends if they know anyone and if they can recommend. There is zero shame in wanting to be free.
Finally, I always recommend that you talk with your GP as it's great to have a partnered approach to your overall health. If you are really very low as you you read this then please do reach out to some of the local or national agencies. Such as:
Reach out. Your inner healing matters. Ric Wilton.