Over half (58%) of healthcare professionals have difficulty sourcing reliable health information to share with patients according to a 2022 survey conducted by The Patient Information Forum (PIF)

With so much online information available, knowing where to go and who to trust can be tricky. The spread of misinformation can easily escalate with the mix of opinions on social media so it is really important to get health information from reliable sources.

What is PIF TICK and why is it important?

PIF is a non-profit UK membership organisation working to improve the quality of health information; representing members across NHS, charitable and private sectors.

The PIF TICK accreditation is an excellent way for people to know that health information is dependable and accurate. It is the UK’s only independently-assessed quality mark for print and online health information.

Dr Michael Hughes, consultant rheumatologist, said, “All patients need access to reliable, high-quality, and readable information from their initial diagnosis and throughout the course of their disease. The PIF TICK is a trusted reassurance that clinicians are signposting patients to high-quality and assured information.”

While our healthcare system is stretched, accessing up-to-date and accurate information can better health outcomes and entrust people to make informed decisions about their wellbeing.

Dr Juhi Tandon, GP and co-founder of Cognitant Group, said, “As doctors, we want to encourage our patients to play a more participatory role in their health and empower them with the tools needed to better self-manage their care. This starts with trusted health information. In our short consultation time, we struggle to adequately explain health, disease and treatment, so the ability to use the PIF TICK to signpost patients to reliable, accurate and up-to-date, evidence-based health information from trusted sources, is incredibly valuable. It can really augment shared decision-making and informed choice.”

What is the PIF toolkit?

PIF TICK launched a new toolkit on 28th February 2022 to help healthcare professionals give trusted information to their patients. It is endorsed by GPs and is there to overcome the difficulties of misinformation. It includes:

Patient resources on spotting false health information, BMI, and clinical evidence.

More than 85 independently assessed trusted information creators, sorted by therapy area.

The toolkit will help healthcare professionals confidently signpost trustworthy information. Every organisation within the directory has undergone a tough, independent assessment of their healthcare information production process.

The Counselling Directory and PIF TICK

Happiful’s Counselling Directory has received PIF TICK accreditation to become a ‘trusted information creator’. Ellen Lees, Head of Content at Happiful, said: “We’re thrilled to announce that Counselling Directory has received the PIF TICK certification. Gaining the PIF TICK shows we have a strong process for developing our health information resources, and that we truly care about the quality of the information we publish.”

The Counselling Directory team had to show that their health information meets ten key criteria. Having the PIF TICK accreditation means that people visiting the Counselling Directory can be assured that the information is evidence-based, comprehensible, and of high quality.

Why might I see a counsellor?

You may choose to see a counsellor for a specific problem or purely for personal growth. Is there something that’s been bothering you for some time or are you looking for a general feeling of contentment?

It might be worth wondering how long you see yourself going to counselling. Do you see it as more open-ended or plan to dive deep into one issue, making it more short-term? It’s sometimes helpful to think about how you would like your life to look after the counselling sessions come to a close. Counselling can be such a rewarding process but it’s easy to put off seeing a counsellor, especially if you are worried or unsure of what to expect.

What can you expect?

The idea of seeing a counsellor might make you feel vulnerable or intimidated. Or you may feel excited to embark on a new adventure of self-improvement. Counsellors are there to provide a trusted, safe space for you to share your emotions and experiences without the fear of being judged.

They are there to listen to you and validate your feelings. They are also there to facilitate your development; this might mean encouraging you to make those necessary changes to overcome struggles. Weekly counselling sessions are quite normal but this is something you can work out with your counsellor. It’s a good idea to commit to fairly regular sessions otherwise the work may lose momentum.

What should I ask before starting counselling?

If you are looking to work with a counsellor, it’s a great idea to ask about their accreditation and if they belong to a professional body. Counselling Directory only list therapists who have shown proof of membership with a professional body such as the BACP, the UK Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP), and the British Psychoanalytic Council (BCP).

To make it easy, Counselling Directory displays the therapist’s professional organisation on their profile, so if you want to learn more you can do so quickly. Asking if they have experience with the problems you’re presenting is also worthwhile. If you need to work on something quite specific, you will want someone that’s really quite involved in the subject.

How do I find the right fit?

It’s worth having a quick chat with the person you are thinking of working with, just to make sure you feel comfortable and relaxed. It’s absolutely OK to ask them questions and get a feel for it all. You will want to come away from that initial conversation feeling respected and listened to. Sharing your deepest feelings with someone will mean you need to feel at ease in their presence. Don’t be nervous about trusting your intuition on this one.

Find a qualified professional online or near you using Counselling Directory or to find out more about counselling.

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