Whilst talking therapies are usually safe & are frequently effective, long-lasting negative effects can sometimes occur.
There are however, steps we can take to help ensure we have a positive therapeutic experience!
It is often helpful before we start therapy:
To think about what qualities we might value in a therapist.
Familiarise ourselves with what, "good enough" therapy commonly looks like.
Learn about, "red flags" that may indicate questionable practice.
The titles, "psychotherapist" and "counsellor" are not protected in the UK. This means anyone can use them, even someone with absolutely no training or a £10 counselling course from the internet!
It is therefore important, we ensure therapists we see are suitably qualified & registered with a governing body overseen by, or accredited with, the UK Professional Standards Authority (PSA).
Checking the professional register of any potential therapist will ensure they are listed & not currently working under sanctions. Sometimes therapists state, "they abide by the code of ethics of X organisation", which sounds good, but which offers us zero protection, if the therapist is not currently on the register!
The UK regulatory framework for talking therapy is fragmented, inconsistent & sometimes fails to protect. However, it is always worth seeking out therapists registered with a governing body who has PSA oversight/accreditation, because imperfect protection is a great deal better than none.