Articles

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Lourdes GDCP DCH Ad.Dip.Eh.P.NLP
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What the letters behind my name mean…

GDCP – Graduate Diploma in Counselling and Psychotherapy

DCH – Diploma in Clinical Hypnotherapy

Ad.Dip.Eh.NLP – Advanced Diploma in Ericksonian Hypnotherapy and
Neurolinguistic Programming

Bachelor in Social Sciences (Counseling Major) final year of degree in 2008

Certified in:

– Advanced Clinical Hypnosis
– Models of Hypnotherapy & Script Writing
– Forensic Applications of Hypnosis
– Clinical & Experimental Issues in Hypnosis
– Medical & Psychotherapeutic Hypnosis

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What Is a “Psychotherapist” Anyway?

Psychotherapists, psychologist, licensed clinical social workers, counselors, therapists, licensed professional counselors, licensed marriage and family therapists, psychiatrists… these are all generic labels for someone in the business of helping others with their problems. In Sydney, anyone can legally call themselves a “psychotherapist”,”counselor” or “therapist”.

As a matter of fact, anyone can legally practice psychotherapy in Sydney, regardless of their academic education or professional training…or the lack thereof. There are significant differences in training, qualifications and experience from one practitioner to another.

The business card and shingle may be very shiny but take very close note – a six week course does not a “Therapist” make – beware.

Regardless of whether or not Counselling and Psychotherapy is regulated or not it’s best to be selective when you put your mental and physical health at the mercy of any practitioner.

Unfortunately, there is no easy way to know who is competent, ethical or effective in helping others. However, you can learn how to interview a prospective therapist and assess whether that person matches your personal needs and concerns.

Determining Competency and Ethical Standards

Membership in a recognized professional organization however, like the Psychotherapist and Counselling Federation of Australia or the Sydney Counselling Association for example, may be important. Associations like these may hold the practitioner accountable for following their organization’s professional code of ethics.

The Importance of Interviewing a Referred Therapist

Even though a therapist may come highly recommended and has many years of experience helping countless others, he or she still may not be the right match for you or your needs. It is essential that you feel comfortable with the person whom you will inevitably entrust with your deepest secrets and fears. Take some time to interview a few different therapists. You have a right to ask questions and make an informed choice.

Assessing Competence

The following questions may further help you to determine the level of competence of the therapist you are interviewing by assessing their professional training, credentials, licenses, organizational affiliations and history of experiences in clinical practice.

– What diploma and graduate degree did they receive? From which school? What year?

– Did they graduate from a specific clinical training program from their university? What was their major?

– How many years have they been practicing therapy? How long privately?

– What was their previous employment prior to private practice? Did they work in clinical agencies?

– Do they currently have a clinical supervisor who reviews their work? For how many years? If not, why not?

– What professional organizations are they a member of? What was the criteria for membership?

– How much and what kind of specific experience have they had treating any particular problem you may be concerned about?

– What specific personal experiences or training programs qualifies them to practice their style of therapy? Have they been in therapy themself?

– Do they carry liability (malpractice) insurance?

– Have they had any formal complaints filed against them?

Evaluating Referral Sources

Some caution is advised however when receiving referrals from personal recommendations.

Take into account who you are receiving the referrals from. Friends, relatives or neighbors may not necessarily be the best judge of competence or be able to determine the right match according to your needs. Selecting a friend’s therapist could also raise concerns of loyalty, competitiveness or confidentiality.

Doctors or clergy may not necessarily know very much about psychotherapy or the different approaches and practitioners. You might wind up being referred to a doctor’s colleague or friend, who is biased towards a particular
treatment approach accepted among their limited professional circle only. The same holds true for referring mental health professionals.

Evaluate for yourself how well the person you are receiving referrals from understands your needs and how knowledgeable they are about varying styles and approaches that differ from their own. Also, do not choose a therapist who you may already know socially. It is unethical for a therapist to work with someone with whom he or she may have a dual relationship.

Other Referral Sources

Other sources for referrals can be found by ads in the yellow pages, local newspapers, and other free community magazines and directories available at restaurants and shops around town. Keep in mind that these advertisements
are designed to catch your attention and do not necessarily provide any assurance that the person is qualified, experienced or reputable. Attending public presentations or workshops by therapists is another way to get introduced and learn about one’s personality or practice style.

Psychotherapy referral services may appear to be a good way to get referrals, but they typically only give out names of therapists who have paid a marketing fee to the company or get a commission for making the referral. If you call an agency or large group practice for a referral, you may be assigned to a therapist solely on the basis of who has an opening in their schedule. If you have selected a health insurance plan which limits you to seeking treatment only from an “in network” provider, you may get referred to a therapist selected solely because their post code location is
nearest to yours. You may also find that that therapist in the provider network is severely restricted to the kind and amount of therapy covered under your insurance policy.

After asking around, you may find that the same person is recommended from several different sources of referrals. That may be a good sign that you have found someone competent. But, are they compatible? Regardless of which
method you ultimately use to get a particular therapist’s name, it is essential to follow up with a personal interview. Only then can you better assess for yourself if working with this person is right for you.

Understanding the Different Credentials

There are a wide variety of master’s and doctoral degrees available to someone who seeks to become a therapist. In addition, after completing certain post-graduate training programs or meeting specific criteria established by state or national professional organizations, one can obtain an ever widening variety of certifications which may indicate additional achievement in a particular area of practice.

Unfortunately, there are also an increasing number of “degree mills” and self serving training programs which enable anyone to obtain an official looking graduate “Diploma” or framed “Training Certificate” for the right price. It is often difficult to discriminate between the legitimately recognized universities and organizations from the meaningless ones.

Summing It All Up

A highly recommended, experienced and licensed therapist may have the right credentials, with a wall covered with prestigious diplomas and certificates, and still not be very effective in helping you. Some people have a natural ability to listen and communicate well with others. This factor alone can sometimes make all the difference in being helped. In the long run, the theoretical practice style or technique one uses may not make much difference at all. Most likely, the ideal therapist for you has a healthy balance of:

* professional credentials and training
* a natural ability to communicate
* a long history of having helped many others effectively with caring and respect.