During therapy

Can I choose another therapist?

Your choice of therapist is an important issue in therapy, particularly because some of the improvements brought about by therapy are associated with the relationship between the client and therapist.  It is therefore important that you are able to trust your therapist and feel confident in their ability to work with you. If this isn’t the case, and you are struggling to resolve the issues with your current therapist, you may want to see another therapist offering the same type of therapy that you’re currently having. 

I didn’t feel comfortable with my therapist from the start – he was too stand-offish. It would have been better for me to see a female therapist who was a bit warmer.

Regardless of the type of therapy you’re having (e.g. NHS or private), you are entitled to ask the question – “Can I choose another therapist?” Clients who have experienced adverse effects of therapy often strongly recommend that other clients ‘shop around’ for therapists before deciding whom they would like to see for therapy. In the same way that the first time you meet a therapist they will be carrying out an initial assessment of you and your problems and circumstances, it could be helpful to take some time to think about how well you will be able to work with them. In the UK clients tend to be allocated therapists by the services to which they have been referred.  However, this does not mean that you are obliged to accept the therapist you have been allocated. If you have any specific preferences, such as a therapist of a specific gender, culture or faith it is helpful to make these known before your first appointment. It is sometimes possible to accommodate these preferences. 

In some circumstances the choice of therapist may not be possible as there may only be one therapist with a particular form of training in the local area, especially if you are seeing an NHS therapist.  If you (or another party) are paying for therapy then it may be more straightforward to seek out someone else. However, whether you are paying for therapy or not, you still have the right to ask about your choice of therapists. 

It is generally thought to be unhelpful to see two different therapists at the same time for the same problem or circumstances, unless they are working with each other and have agreed the type of therapy you will be having and who will be doing which aspects. 

Questions to ask yourself when first meeting a therapist (and beyond)

  • Do I think I can develop a helpful working relationship with this person?
  • Do they instil confidence that they have the knowledge, skill and competence to I don’t think she was particularly experienced or very knowledgeable or very well trained help me?
  • Can I trust them?
  • Do they have knowledge and experience of any social or cultural issues that are important to me? (If not, are they prepared to take the time to explore these from my point of view) 

Questions to ask yourself when wishing to choose another therapist

  • Are my reasons for wanting another therapist clear?
  • If no alternative therapists are available is it possible to do the work of therapy in an alternative format (e.g. in a group, by using self-help materials) 

Questions to ask your therapist

  • Is it possible to see someone else? 

Questions to ask your referrer

  • Can I be referred to another therapist?
  • Is it possible to referred to another service that offers the same type of therapy?
  • Is it possible to be referred a service in another area?