One of the aspects of my job role is not only to negotiate with insurers about claim forms etc., but to arrange therapy for my patients.
Unlike buying a car, where one can look at online reviews or What Car, or if one goes to stay in a hotel one can look at Trip Advisor, there is no meaningful feedback mechanism which allows potential patients to assess the competency and psychological approach of therapists. I have been in private practice for a very long time and I have built up a circle of therapists whom I know and trust. In my opinion, picking the right therapist is the most important part of a successful outcome in psychological change, and I have had feedback from the referrals that I have made to this group of therapists. I may have referred up to 500 people for therapy.
The key constituents include; location, insurance cover, the personality and style of the therapist, the type of therapy that is delivered, good communication skills, a kind and professional approach and an ability to know when they are out of their depth and other people should be involved. The timing of therapy sessions can be very important for some people, if they are working, to minimise disruption from the working week. In my opinion, it is usually not appropriate to go and see a therapist more than thirty minutes away from ones normal routine, as the time spent travelling can have a negative impact in itself.
I will make an assessment during the initial consultation and I will more often than not, make therapy recommendations with all these factors in mind. I have the benefit of knowing the personality and skillset etc. of each therapist so that I can ideally place you with you with the best person to meet your needs. I also ensure, for good professional reasons, that the therapists write to me a short note that they have seen you and the main issues of therapy and also to keep in contact with me, in writing, periodically which can be useful if there are review appointments, but also if further sessions need to be pre-authorised from insurance companies. Most insurance companies will only pre-authorise six or eight sessions of 1:1 therapy and sometimes insurance companies will extend these sessions with the patient phoning the insurance company asking for some more, but often they do require a report from me about the necessity for further treatment.
I would highlight that, in my whole professional career, I have never known clinical information provided to insurance companies being revealed to that person’s employer. The "Chinese Wall" is impenetrable and the only way that the content of any therapy sessions can be disclosed to a third party otherwise with your express permission.
I will usually write the referral letter to the therapist when I am seeing you, likewise reports to the insurance companies, so that you know what has been said about you. These communications do not go in your GP medical notes, but are merely good communication methods between the therapist and myself. I insist that all therapists that I use communicate back with me as to how things are progressing but if you have specific issues you wish to retain with the counsellor/therapist alone please let the therapist know.