Navigating the world of English speaking therapists in another city can be daunting, especially if it’s your first experience of therapy. Here is a guide to support you in your search for the perfect therapist. Below we will dive into some important questions to help you determine what your needs are. You will find information about the practical attributes and qualities to look for in a therapist to suit those needs as well as clarification on the different therapeutic approaches and protected terminology that you’ll come across, so that you can narrow down your search efficiently and find a therapist that is right for you. The dynamic between therapist and client plays a crucial role in therapy. In fact, the research shows that better relationships between the client and the therapist lead to better outcomes. You should feel as comfortable and safe as possible in order to openly explore your vulnerabilities and needs.
Make sure your therapist is qualified
Well done, if you’re reading this you’ve probably decided to take the next steps towards making some positive changes to your life and the future. Firstly, make sure your therapist is qualified. Most of the English speaking therapists in Berlin are also expats, which means that their qualifications and education won’t necessarily carry on into Germany’s protected terminologies.
As you are probably already aware if you have been living in Berlin for just a short time, Germany’s bureaucratic system takes no prisoners. They have their own strict protected terms, and so, a ‘psychotherapist’ in Germany might have very different requirements to a ‘psychotherapist’ in another country. As a result many English speaking therapists use the more general and unprotected term ‘therapist’ or ‘counsellor’ - that is not to say that they are unqualified, just that their qualifications are not regarded as the same standard in Germany.
The best way to make sure your therapist is qualified is to find out what their qualifications are and where they were accredited. A quick google can help you find answers. Information about where they studied and which board has accredited their qualifications should be readily available on their website or profile. If not, you can always ask the therapist in question to provide these. A reputable qualified therapist should be more than happy to pass them on.
Where to start looking for an English Speaking Therapist in Berlin and how to go about it?
How to find a good English speaking therapist in Berlin that really gets you? The relationship between therapist and client is an important dynamic but don’t overthink it - feeling comfortable and calm with your therapist is key. Of course, there will be moments in therapy where emotions pick up but overall the therapist should help you to feel as comfortable and relaxed as possible. The reason for this is that you can explore solutions together and access the clearer intelligent insights developed in the higher-order part of the brain known as the neocortex, which functions at its best when we’re calm.
There are several user-friendly platforms for qualified English speaking therapists in Berlin including complicated.life and stillpointspaces.com. These platforms have helpful search filters so that you can narrow down your search from the get go, including ‘areas of expertise’, gender, ethnicity, language, online/in person etc.
If you already have a specific type of approach that you’re looking for, such as ‘humanistic therapist Berlin’, it might be worth giving that a google too, the more specific your search, the more precise the results will be.
How to navigate the various types of therapy and therapeutic approaches of English speaking therapists in Berlin, and which one is right for me?
A good place to start is identifying what your goals are; what do you want to get out of therapy? How long do you want to spend in therapy? And how quickly do you need to see results? If you are working through a bout of crippling anxiety or depression and you want to get back to living your life fast, then seeing a psychoanalyst might not be the best choice for you. Instead solution-focused therapy or CBT would be a better fit. Likewise if you are searching for new and creative tools to change your behaviour or thought processes, as opposed to just uncovering why you think and behave in certain ways. You can get a good sense about who a therapist is and how they work from reading their bio, and how they describe their approach in their own words.
Here is a very brief summary of some of the common therapeutic approaches you will come across.
Integrative therapists utilize a variety of theories and techniques from different approaches to tailor therapy to the client, depending on the client’s needs. An integrative therapist might use a combination of tools including socratic questioning, cognitive behavioural tools, and mindfulness techniques all in one session. For instance, if the client’s issue relates to challenging thoughts, then the therapist might use psychodynamic questioning in combination with CBT techniques to uncover the source of why a client thinks in a certain way and provide them with effective strategies to shift their thinking.
Psychoanalytic Theory and Therapy
Psychoanalysis is an earlier form of therapy first laid out by Freud. Psychoanalysis places emphasis on the relationship between the conscious and unconscious and the idea that our unconscious plays a more significant role over our behavior and thinking than we realize. Understanding the often repressed role of our unconscious and uncovering unconscious fears, desires, memories and thoughts is key to unlocking why we behave and think in certain ways. The analysis of dreams and fantasies, and exercises such as free association are common practice in a psychoanalytic session. It is recommended that sessions should take place often and regularly, and it is often said that a client only starts to make progress after 6 sessions with a psychoanalyst.
This is an offshoot of psychoanalysis that is a combination of work from Freud, Jung, Anna Freud, Melanie Klein, Alfred Adler and Erik Erikson. Psychodynamic theory focuses on the role of our unconscious desires, fears, memories and how these drive our behavior and conscious thinking.
This is a positive approach to psychotherapy that focuses on the client as an individual self with the strengths and potential already inside them to change, and helps them overcome difficulties through personal growth. It involves identifying and nurturing the client’s internal needs, strengths, values, relationships and individual potential, in order to support them in finding meaning, fulfillment, growth and self-actualisation.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy follows the idea that our thoughts and behavior are key components that contribute to our mental state and mood and that we can therefore improve mental disorders such as depression and anxiety by changing our thoughts and behavior. CBT supports clients to become aware of and challenge or replace destructive or disturbing thought patterns that have a negative influence on our emotions and behavior.
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)
ACT is an approach that helps clients deal with difficult thoughts and feelings. ACT follows the principle that human suffering occurs when we get caught up in these thoughts and emotions and struggle to free ourselves from them. ACT encourages clients to accept and be curious about unwanted emotions instead of trying to fight or avoid them. It utilizes mindfulness techniques to relate to one’s thoughts and a commitment to accepting our thoughts and dealing with them.
Solution-Focused Brief Therapy (SFBT)
SFBT is a goal-oriented approach that focuses on the client’s strengths, skills and coping abilities rather than their weaknesses, and utilizes these to achieve their goals. It is hope and future-oriented and incorporates positive psychology principles to motivate clients to achieve their goals. It follows the idea of viewing the client as a whole, with all the solutions already within them. It helps clients to navigate their problems by finding out exceptions to the client’s problem, i.e. when they successfully coped and overcame their difficulties, and builds from those.
What qualities should I look out for when choosing the right English Speaking Therapist in Berlin?
Trust is key. It is important that you feel comfortable with your therapist, so consider what your requirements are for this. When you are calm you are able to confront difficult emotions, see your situation more objectively, and formulate solutions intelligently. When we’re stressed, the emotional side of the brain takes over and inhibits clear thinking so it is important that you choose someone who makes you feel calm and free from judgment with whom to explore the strange inner workings of your mind.
What are your needs: -
Do you have a preference for a particular gender, ethnicity or sexual orientation? A therapist doesn’t necessarily have to have the same background and experience as you, but you should feel like they understand you and can work from your ‘model of reality’ to support you. Below are some areas to consider.
Your therapist’s area of expertise is important to consider. If you are exploring experiences in atypical domains such as BDSM, polyamory, fetish etc. you might feel more comfortable in the hands of someone experienced in the nuances of this field of work.
With so many therapists out there you can afford to be picky about working with a therapist of a gender you’re more comfortable with. Many women, for instance, feel more comfortable working with another woman. On the other hand, perhaps, you want to push your usual boundaries and work with someone of a gender that you feel less comfortable with to learn to trust a particular gender. If this is the case, consider whether the issues you are bringing to the sessions would suit this challenge well.
Most therapists are open to having a 10 minute introductory phone call or offer the first session at a discounted rate so you can always speak to them first and see how you feel. Listen to your intuition, it is important that you choose a therapist with whom you feel comfortable enough to explore your vulnerable side.
Do you feel more comfortable working with someone who looks like you or who has a similar cultural background? Whether you are happy to work with a therapist who has the same background as you or shares the same cultural values, or a therapist who doesn’t, you should feel assured that your therapist makes you feel comfortable and safe enough to explore your issues in a non-judgemental environment.
Gender and Sexual Orientation
If you would like support in specialist areas related to some of the nuances that come with being part of a particular minority community such as LGBTQI+, then speaking with a therapist who is trained and familiar with working through these complexities might be able to provide more valuable insights and experience than one that isn’t.
Practical factors that are essential to consider when determining your choice of therapist.
Finally, here are some practical factors that you might want to consider.
Timeframe and Budget
How often and for how long would you like to see your therapist? It would be wise to assess your budget here and think about the types of therapy available (mentioned above). If you’re on a smaller budget and would like to be out of therapy fairly quickly then something more solution-focused would suit you better. On the other hand, if you have a larger budget and aim to be in therapy regularly for a long time then you might prefer the idea of psychoanalytic therapy.
If you’re on a tight budget, many therapists also offer sliding scale options for those on low-income so it is definitely worth messaging therapists to see if they offer this. You could also save money by seeing a trainee therapist. Although they have less experience, they will be full of fresh ideas so this could be something to consider. If you’re open to online therapy and looking to save money, some therapists charge less for online sessions as they usually involve fewer overheads so this is worth checking with them too.
Are you able to afford therapy or are you reliant on your insurance to cover it? Many English speaking therapists in Berlin are not part of the German system, which means there are a very limited number of English speaking therapists on the list of therapists that insurance can cover. If you are privately insured then it is recommended to speak with your health insurance and find out what is covered by them.
In person or online
Most therapists now offer both options so consider whether you will get more out of going to see a therapist in person or having sessions online. Working with another person face to face can be deeply satisfying, and the time spent traveling to and from your therapist can be helpful for reflecting on the session, as well as preparing what you’d like to talk about.
Although it sounds like there are a lot of different factors to consider, you will know from browsing through the article which ones are priorities for you, and which ones are less important. If anything, they can help you narrow down your search so you can make an informed decision about the type of therapist that would be best suited to your needs. Happy searching!