Wednesday, 20 May 2020

Tips to find the right therapist

When you choose to see a therapist or coach, you are putting your health and well-being in their hands to some degree. So, how do you choose the right therapist for you and your condition or problem?
 "Be a free thinker and don't accept everything you hear as truth. Be critical and evaluate what you believe in". Aristotle 

Why did I write this?

If you're new to looking for a therapist or you want to find one you feel might be more suitable for you, then I hope this article will help you find the right therapist for you.

When I started in practice in 1993, therapists were few and far between.  Now, it seems, every town has hundreds of practitioners, therapists and coaches offering a myriad of possible solutions to your problem.

On the face of it this gives you a lot of choice - a good thing you might think.

What alarms me is, that some training establishments offer qualifications, for lay people, to be therapists after only a one day course. Or even worse, solely by correspondence.  And many without any anatomy or physiology knowledge.  Hence the explosion of therapists and therapies in our high streets and on the web.

As I mention in Why Therapy Doesn't Work, many 'treatment' offerings are nothing more than relaxation. While that's important, you might get as much benefit from a friend with a listening ear, and it won't cost you an arm and a leg!

Hopefully if you see a therapist/coach, you experience a sense of well-being after a treatment/session and feel pleased with the outcome.  If not or you're left with a nagging feeling that you would like more, then I suggest you read on and judge for yourself whether it's the right therapy or therapist / coach for you.

 How to find the right therapist or coach for you!
If you're new to this or have doubts about right the type of treatment for your problem, here are some tips, questions and information to help you choose.

Because a practitioner or therapist has helped you with one condition, or because they helped your friend who had a similar issue to yours, does not necessarily mean that they're right for you this time.

About the practitioner


Their qualifications

Ask yourself and them the following:
  1. What qualifications do they have?
  2. How long was the training to achieve those qualifications?
Training diploma for IEMT
There are many people calling themselves therapists or practitioners who have only attended a weekend course without any further training, home study or practice.

Although they may have the skill to perform the techniques learned, this does not necessarily make them able to treat your specific problem nor have the skills to run a professional practice.

      3. When did they qualify?
      4. How long have they been in practise?

The answers to these last  two may be very different.

They may have qualified many years ago, but have only just started their practice.  Ergo, they might not be up-to-date with developments or new standards.  It may also make a difference to their skill level, as this develops with the number of clients treated. 

Qualifying in a therapy does not necessarily equip everyone with the skill to run a professional practice. Many people skills are required which are not usually taught in ‘therapy’ schools. By which I mean such things such as record keeping, communication, bedside manners and empathy.

They may not stay in practice long if they don't possess such attributes. This doesn't make them a bad practitioner. But you might want to consider if you want to invest your time and money on someone you're not sure will be able to help you in the long run. Particularly if you have a chronic condition which may need ongoing support.

How skilled are they in what ails you?

  1. Have they ever treated the type of problem you have?
  2. And if not, is there any evidence that the type of therapy they're offering is helpful to your specific condition?
If the answer is NO to both these questions, then this might not be the right therapist for you. If it's no to the first, but yes to the second, it may be the right therapy but not the right therapist. Is there someone they can recommend?

What else do they offer?

Do they offer you other products or services, which may help support your recovery? Or are you left to find those for yourself?

Do they provide advice or information to help you to understand your condition so you can help yourself, or do they just treat you and send you on your way until the next visit.

If they do offer advice:

Are they simply telling you what to do? Or do they provide you with information you can refer to once you are home? A few days later it may be difficult to remember some of the details.

Do they demonstrate what you need to do and then let you do it, to make sure you are doing it correctly?  Do they check you are doing it correctly?

I've had countless clients who've been told to do an exercise and been given a leaflet (generally by a doctor or physiotherapist). But they never actually went through the exercise with the therapist so the client isn't sure they are doing it correctly.



Do they have professional indemnity insurance?

If something were to happen and they're not insured, you would find it difficult to claim compensation, as they may not be able to pay the amount awarded. God forbid, however these things do happen as in this case in 2019.

Do they hold membership of a professional body?

Logo for the LCSP register for remedial massage therapists

In some fields like osteopathy, chiropractic or acupuncture and in my fields of Remedial Massage and IEMT, this is compulsory. In others fields there is no regulatory body.

This may mean practitioners don't have standards, set by governing bodies, which they have to comply with . They may not need to keep up with advances in their field of practice or demonstrate any proof of continuing professional development.

Also, you may have no one to turn to about the standard of the care or treatment you received, if you feel it 's not satisfactory. Such an instance leaves the therapist free to continue practising - even if they fall short of even basic care.


About the Session



How long does a session take?  And how long will the effect last?
Some treatments take less than ten minutes. So if you need to travel an hour or so to get there, is it really worth your time or could you find someone closer?

On the other hand, if the session lasts two hours, it may well be worth the journey.
Often sessions are weekly until your symptoms improve - sometimes it could be more than this. This could make it difficult for you to fit in, if you have to take time off work.

You may want to consider this in relation to the next questions regarding cost and venue.


  1. Does the price reflect the time it takes (so charged by the hour for example) or the value of the session?
  2. How many sessions will you need? And do you need a minimum number of sessions?
  3. At what times are sessions available? Will you be easily available then?
  •   Here is what Andy Austin developer of IEMT has to say about therapists and their pricing structure

The Venue

  • How easy is it to get to the practice, especially if you are using public transport?
    • How long will it take?
    • Is there be parking near-by?  If so will you have to pay for it?
    • Will you need to use stairs or a lift to get to the room?
All important to consider if you are not very mobile because of pain or you suffer from claustrophobia for example.


About you!


How were you treated?

If you're already seeing someone or have spoken to them over the phone - ask yourself how that person treated you. The sessions are meant to be about you and you need to feel ultimately that you are getting value for money. I know your health is priceless but for most people the wallet doesn't extend that far!

  1. Do feel you had enough time to explain your problems before a solution or treatment plan was offered?
  2. Does the practitioner give you time to ask questions?
  3. Do you have time to share your progress or difficulties? 


  • Do you feel you're the most important person to that practitioner at that moment? Or do you feel their mind is elsewhere?
  • Is the session about you and offering a solution or simply about applying a technique?
  • Do you feel every session is unique to you?  Or is every treatment much the same with same technique used each time? Whether it works or not.
  • What would make your experience better? What, if anything, might be missing?
  • If you know what it is, are you able to tell the practitioner, so that the session can be improved? Or do you feel they wouldn't be receptive to this? After all you know your body better than anyone else ever will. Any practitioner worth their salt would respect that.


Ultimately, do you feel comfortable with the practitioner/coach or therapist in question?  Or do you have a sense that something is not quite right?  Even though you may not be able to put your finger on it, it's vital you trust your instinct. You might pick this up in a handshake or something they say.

When I started my practice, I wanted to work from a chiropractic clinic. I was interviewed by the owner and I thought something was off then but could not have told you what the problem was. Twenty years later the chiropractor was forbidden to practice, due to inappropriate behaviour with a client.

Remember this is your time and money you're spending.  It's important that you feel completely comfortable with both the therapist and the type of treatment you're receiving.

Here is a different perspective regarding personal training and finding the right coach which you may also find useful. As well as these  5 tips , 10 ways to find a therapist  and why the relationship with your therapist matters

Wishing you health and happiness - naturally!
All rights reserved Julie Nicholls 2020

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