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1 May 2014

10 questions to ask a therapist before choosing one

These questions can help you choose the right therapist. With hundreds of therapies and tens of thousands of therapies, finding someone and a therapy that works for you can be a pretty tough nut to crack.

As a practicing full-time professional hypnotherapist in London and Hampshire, I thought it would be useful to write some questions that could help you choose the right therapist for you. And they apply to all forms of therapy, not just hypnotherapy. They’re not exhaustive and they’re a good starter for 10.


1. Do you specialise?
I’m always struck when walking through Leicester Square & Chinatown that there are many herbalist’s who say they can treat every condition from A-Z. I’m just not sure how you are able to do 100 things brilliantly.
That’s why I think focusing on a few areas is more important than being a generalist. If you’re wanting help for your specific problem, which would you prefer..?

2. How quickly can I be treated
Therapy should have time limits. As a client you will probably know what you want i.e. to feel more confident / to be less anxious. A good therapist will broadly know how long you will need and together you should agree some goals in terms of a timeline for working with you*.

If people are open-ended or vague, then arguably stay clear. Also do some reading beforehand (sorry if that sounds patronising), to get a gauge of how long you may need some help for.

3. Do you offer guarantees
The short answer is always run a mile from people offering guarantees.  The longer answer is that this is a really, really hard one to answer because there are three interconnected variables. There’s the therapist, the condition and you the client. Let’s break them down:

The therapist aspect I’ve hopefully covered elsewhere within here.

Some conditions are binary in that you either are doing x or y, or not e.g. smoking / phobia’s.  Other conditions are more linear in nature e.g. there are degrees of anxiety.

A lot of clients are totally committed to resolving their problem. And there’s some who are not and are going through the motions and you have a realisation of this only during the appointments.

As you can see it’s a pretty complex set of inter-twined variable. That said, any therapist that offers you a cast-iron guarantee is the one I’d steer clear of (personally). The simple reason that it’s just not realistic because of these three factors.

4. How long did you train for
This is a really important question. Therapy is (relatively) massively unregulated and some people can call themselves a therapist based on an online course with no client contact time.

Personally speaking I’ve now spent something a thousand hours training all told and some people train in excess of that.

5. Where did you train
As with the above, you want to check out where someone trained. It’s not that you probably are going to look at their credentials per se, it’s more a comfort factor. Additional questions you may want to ask here are:

  • How long has the training institute / company been in operation for
  • Are the principles industry recognised
  • What recognised qualification/s do you have

6. What do your clients say about you i.e. are you any good
Ask to see / read hear about client testimonials. I always think what clients say is far more powerful than anything I can say or write.  You’ll get a sense if they’re authentic or not (both the therapist & the testimonials). That said for reasons of privacy some clients understandably insist on anonymity.
Here’s what some clients say about the work I’ve done with them:

7. How many hours do you work
Do you want to see someone who sees one client or week, or who has a busy practice? Of course being busy doesn’t mean good, but it is more likely to mean that they are. Put the other way someone who sees clients infrequently is arguably not

8. Where do you practice & what’s it like
People can either practice from a professional practice or from their own home. Personally speaking I only see clients in a practice. This is because I think it’s good to have division between work and home.
Location can be important also. Take a look at where they’re based e.g. in London, make sure it’s somewhere central like a town or city centre.

Also have a look at their treatment room online.  Is it the kind of place you’d feel comfortable opening up to someone in?
As an example, this is the room I practice from:

9. How much professional development do you do?
It’s important to keep abreast of theories, learn new skills and keep growing. Feel totally free to ask this question. A couple of bodies I’m a member of insist of 2 full working days a year spent learning. Personally I do more than that. If your prospective therapist doesn’t, I’m not sure that’s a good thing, as you can frankly never know too much.

10. What does your intuition tell you?
Perhaps the most important question to ask is this one of yourself. What does your gut instinct in conjunction with these kinds of questions tell you? Do you feel you could work with them, do you trust them etc.
Hopefully, these tips give you a sense of what to look for in a therapist. Write your own, ask for some time on the ‘phone / Skype before you make any appointment and shop around.

I hope that you found this useful. If you did and you’re looking for your own consultation, all clients are offered a free 20-minute consultation. And if you would like one and are interested in hypnotherapy in London then do get in touch via either freephone 0800 122 3073 or email me at

Thanks for reading.


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