These days you hear everywhere about free talking therapies provided by the NHS. So why would you pay to see a counsellor or psychotherapist?
The problem very often is the nature of the free NHS talking therapy services, and this article will consider the issues.
1. The number of sessions with NHS services is generally limited.
Often NHS therapies may be limited to 6 sessions. Unravelling complex psychological issues within 6 sessions is a stretch. You may be able to deal with single, simple issues, or surface issues - but the chance of getting to the heart of a complex psychological problem is not likely in such a short time. The best psychotherapeutic relationships are barely forged in the first six sessions.
2. There is very often a waiting list
If you need help with your mental health, you need it now. Waiting for a GP referral or even a self referral might take a couple of weeks. The waiting list could then be for three or more months. You may have to speak to several people during this referral process. Private counsellors and psychotherapists can usually see you in a matter of hours or days.
3. You don't always get a choice of the type of therapy you are offered.
The NHS trumpets the use of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). This may be appropriate for you. It may not. CBT, by its nature, deals with changing your behaviour using cognitive techniques. It is a goal oriented therapy and can be quite formulaic - a one size fits all approach.
I have come across a lot of people who have said to me that CBT hasn't worked for them.
I use Transactional Analysis (TA). This works at a much deeper level, looking at deep seated feelings and at how patterns within you developed in your past. We build a deep and co-created therapeutic relationship together, in order to deal with the past - unlearning some of those scripts we have built for ourselves, so we can deal with the present. I also use Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) techniques, where these are appropriate. This is particularly useful when it comes to helping my clients build a new future.
Other types of therapy may be useful for you. EMDR, Gestalt, Person Centred.
The reality is that a flexible therapist who uses multiple disciplines or modalities will often be of the most help.
4. You often won't get a choice of therapist
Free services may not come with a choice of person. You are simply allocated a therapist. Very often a private counsellor or therapist will give you some time for free, to assess whether they are the right therapist for you.
You may prefer a particular gender of therapist, or you may want a therapist with experience of certain fields (e.g. trauma specialists, LGBT+ specialists, couples therapists, grief counsellors).
Private therapists offer you a chance to talk through your requirements before commencing therapy. You may not get this with an NHS service. And, of course, if it's not working with your private therapist, you can simply stop and find someone else.
5. You may not get a choice of how to access the service.
NHS services may well be in-person only, or they may be telephone only. Private therapists may well be more flexible and offer facilities such as Zoom or Skype sessions, or even a mixture of in-person and online. Private therapists can be the most flexible to suit your needs.
6. If you are not finished at the end of your allotted number of sessions, NHS services may have no option to extend with the therapist.
You may want a couple of extra sessions, or you may wish to make your sessions a more long term part of your life. You may wish to stop after 6 sessions and then return to therapy in a few months. NHS services don't usually allow this kind of flexibility.
7. Your privacy
Naturally you may wish to keep the details of your mental health private. Some NHS services may mean that your referral to a counsellor or psychotherapist is placed on your medical records. You may prefer this not to be the case, for example in the case of applications for certain type of insurance. Using a private talking therapist means your details are kept absolutely private except in certain very rare circumstances.
I am always happy to provide a free consultation with you if you need the services of a talking therapist. This comes with absolutely no obligation. It is simply to allow you to make a decision as to whether you think I am right for you. You can make an appointment on my website, or you can contact me by email or telephone. My details are below.
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