Untangling listed some indicators for patients who want to find an effective CBT therapist. But if you are a CBT therapist, what can you do to ensure that your effectiveness is clear to everyone in the first place? Here are some things to consider.
These are the indicators of effectiveness from before, but looked at from the therapist’s point of view. The logic is subtly different.
You’ll only get regular recommendations if your work is almost constantly successful. For example, suppose you treat Alf and it goes well. Alf recommends you to Beth, but Beth’s treatment fails. Now Beth talks to Alf again and neither of them will recommend you wholeheartedly to anyone else. Your overall reputation depends on how your successes outweigh your failures, so it’s very important to have many success and few failures.
- Collaboration with psychiatrists and GPs
Working in medical settings is a strong indicator for you because it can get you referrals from medical practitioners, and improve your reputation generally.
- Accreditation by the BABCP
Accreditation is a strong indicator for you because it is the most widely accepted validation in the UK that you are qualified to do CBT. It’s far from perfect, but it’s the best there is.
- Certification by the Academy of Cognitive Therapy
If you’re in the UK, then certification is probably not worth your while because so few people here know about the Academy. (Even so, it might be interesting for you to look at the criteria for certification to see to what extent you meet them.) Not being certified will not harm your career in the UK in any way.
- UKCP registration
Although registration is essentially meaningless, some people and organizations rely on it, and this reliance gives it some value. Depending on the kind of work you do, it might even be essential.
- Accreditation by some other organization
The dominance of CBT in the media makes other therapies relatively worthless as selling points. That doesn’t mean they are worthless as therapies, just that public perception of their value is minimal. Although other accreditations might attract some patients, they will confuse and deter others. So on balance other accreditations probably have no value.
- Advertising a range of therapies
It’s the same for advertising a range of therapies. If you can really do CBT, then patients will be queueing up for CBT. Why dilute this with other therapies? That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t mix complementary techniques with your CBT when appropriate, just that you gain nothing by advertising them.
- Cheap and quick
Cheap and quick does no one any good. If you really have no patients, tell lies. “Actually…[pause]…there’s been a cancellation tomorrow. I know it’s short notice, but is that any good for you?” And charge a realistic rate. If you get no patients at that rate, it’s not because you’re charging too much (demand for CBT is huge), it’s because you’re not good enough at it. To fix the problem, spend money on learning to do CBT properly, and recoup the cost from realistic fees.
- Phoney qualifications
Do I really need to mention it? Don’t claim to have qualifications that are fictitious or meaningless, or that you are not entitled to.
Why is the logic different? It’s all about perception. A well informed patient seeking effective CBT will look for certain things. But most patients are not well informed — they look for different things. As a therapist you have to attract patients in ways that depend on those patients’ perceptions, even if those perceptions are not always accurate.
The first session
Those first-session indicators are simply based on Carl Rogers’ core conditions for effective therapy, which still apply. If they are not the way you do things, you’re doing things wrong. (Some day I’ll review the book here, which will be a good excuse to read it again.)
Some CBT training courses simply assume that you have these basic skills, so that fact that you may have completed a huge amount of training does not always mean that you have mastered the fundamentals. If you need to fill in this gap in your training, simply go for a practical course in humanistic counselling. Pretend to be a wide-eyed innocent beginner, and don’t ever mention CBT.