Use the below times to jump to a specific question or read the answers to these and other questions below:
0:25 Do I just work with one person, or is there a team of people?
1:24 Why is the client-therapist relationship so important?
2:05 Can I talk to my therapist outside of therapy sessions?
3:11 Am I able to provide feedback about my therapist and sessions?
4:11 What if I don't like my therapist or don't feel I have a connection with them?
5:05 How can I make a complaint about my therapist and what happens next?
- Why is the client-therapist relationship so important?
Therapy works through relationships and a lot of research has shown that effective therapy depends on you having a good relationship with your therapist.
It is, therefore, really important that both of you feel that the therapist is someone you can trust and build a relationship with and that the therapist is showing you that they’re taking active steps to build that relationship and trust with you. No-one expects you to trust someone straightaway, but you should feel that, over time, you could build that trust and that you could work together to set goals and solve any difficulties or problems you may be experiencing.
- How often will I meet with my therapist?
How often you meet with your therapist is usually agreed with your therapist based on your assessment, your needs and a joint discussion about what you feel is the best way forward.
Sometimes young people need or want to be seen quite frequently (say weekly or sometimes more than once per week), especially to begin with, and other times there could be longer gaps of a couple of weeks of even months.
If you have agreed longer gaps between sessions but then feel that you might need some additional help or support, you should tell you therapist so that they can consider increasing the frequency of your sessions.
- Do I work with just one person or is there a team of people?
Most individual therapy is undertaken by one person – but sometimes they work alongside others such as a psychiatrist. Family therapy sometimes involves more than one therapist so that they can keep their minds on the needs of each individual family members and the relationships between them.
- Can I talk to my therapist outside of my session?
A lot of CAMHS and other therapeutic services unfortunately do work on a 9 to 5 or 8.30 to 5.30 schedule so it may not always be possible to speak to your therapist direct outside of your session.
If it is something important but not urgent, it can be good to get into the habit of making a ‘mental note’ to yourself to speak to your therapist about whatever is on your mind in your next therapy session.
Some services do have an out-of-hours service although you may not be speaking to your therapist but a colleague within the service you’re working with.
If you are struggling and need emergency help, please see our Urgent Help page which provides you with details of services available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
If you concerned you may harm yourself or others, you can call 999 for an ambulance or go to your local A&E which will be able to provide support.
- Am I able to provide feedback about my therapist and sessions?
Yes – services and individual therapists should welcome feedback about what is going well and what is not so great.
If possible, it can be really helpful to work through your difficulties and concerns with your therapist within your sessions. However, if this does not feel possible or has not worked, you should be able to speak to someone else in the organisation and ask about complaint procedures too.
- What advice would you give to someone who is struggling to connect with their therapist?
If you are young person who is struggling to connect with your therapist there are many ways that you could tell them.
- You could raise this during a session and it may help to write down your feelings in advance so that you can honestly share how you feel.
- You could always email them separate from a session, so they can think about your concerns before your next meeting.
- If you do not like direct confrontation or are worried about upsetting your therapist, you could say that it’s not them personally, but you are finding it difficult to talk honestly with them.
Remember, your therapist is a professional who is there to help you. The more honest you can be with them the more they can help, even if that means them hearing your concerns about the work you’re doing. Hopefully, having this conversation will help you both resolve any issues and build trust in your therapist knowing that they are able to listen and respond.
If the situation does not get better and you feel that you do not want to continue you can always inform the service that you wish to continue with therapy but would like to see someone else.
- What if I don’t like my therapist or don’t feel I have a connection with them?
Therapy isn’t always an easy process, so you may need to talk about what you’re finding difficult even if this means being honest with your therapist about how you are finding your relationship to see whether, together, you can work out a way to move forward.
Sometimes, having this conversation can improve the relationship but other times it’s important for the therapist to know because another relationship might just click for you and be more beneficial to your overall progress.
Obviously, if you don’t trust your therapist or feel that you cannot speak to them or, if you have spoken and you feel the situation hasn’t changed, then it is fine to say that you wish to continue with therapy but that you are not certain you can continue with that person.
We would always encourage you to have that conversation with the therapist direct but, if you can’t work it out or even feel you could say that to them, you can always contact whoever runs the service and let them know that you’d like to see someone else.
- What do I do if my therapist says something hurtful?
Sometimes, your therapist may ask you about issues that you find upsetting but it may be helpful for you both to discuss in order to make progress. However, if there are particular problems, or you are feeling seriously misunderstood or ‘got at’ then you should try to raise and discuss this with your therapist within the session.
If you do not feel comfortable raising an issue directly with your therapist, it’s important for you to let somebody know if you feel that you’re not being treated properly or respectfully.
The service itself will have details of a complaints process which you should be able to get either at their reception or online. The matter could then be addressed with your therapist and potentially their manager or supervisor.
- How can I make a complaint about my therapist and what happens next?
If you want to make a complaint about your therapist, your service should have details of how to make a complaint which you should be able to get either from reception, from their website or by emailing the service manager.
Once you have logged a complaint, the matter will then be addressed with your therapist and potentially their manager or supervisor.
- What happens if my therapist leaves?
If your therapist leaves halfway through your treatment, it’s important that they give you as much notice as possible to let you know what’s happening. You should discuss who might be best to continue working with you, whether it is someone with similar ways of working or whether you would prefer someone with a different approach, and you should have a period of transitioning to the new therapist supported by your current therapist.