Choosing a counsellor can often be a daunting and confusing experience!! It can be difficult knowing who to choose, how to go about it and what to expect.
When I meet with a potential client for the first time I always stress the importance of the therapeutic relationship. I believe that this is central to the counselling relationship. I believe that you are the expert on yourself. As a counsellor, my job is to facilitate and enable you with regard to whatever changes you want to make. It’s really important that you feel as safe and comfortable as possible with whoever you choose to work with. It might help to realise that you have a choice in who you choose to work with – it’s not just about the counsellor deciding if they think they’re the best person to support you. You might want to meet with several counsellors before making a final decision about who to work with – this is absolutely okay!!
Don’t be afraid to ask the counsellor questions when you first meet – you might want to ask questions about how they work. This is absolutely okay and I invite you to give yourself permission to do so.
Other points that you might want to consider when choosing a counsellor are:
- Make sure that the counsellor is signed up to a Code of Ethical Practice, for example: British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP), United Kingdom of Counselling and Psychotherapy (UKCP);
- Check that the counsellor is qualified and accredited – this information will often be displayed on a counsellors website or business card;
- Check that the counsellor has regular supervision of their practice;
- Talk about confidentiality – a counsellor may have to breach confidentiality if they are concerned for your safety or if they feel you present as a threat to others;
- Talk about the number of sessions you will attend. Having met with and assessed your situation, a counsellor will have a sense of whether or not you require short-term or long-term work. Don’t be afraid to ask about this;
- If you have a specific issue that you require support with, for example: an eating disorder or issues resulting from childhood trauma, don’t be afraid to ask the counsellor if they are experienced in working with clients who present with and treating these issues;
- Talk about cancellation of sessions – most counsellors will have a cancellation policy. It is a good idea to check this out when you begin working with a counsellor.
- Above all, remember that the connection you have with your counsellor is central to the work you will do, so it’s important you like the person you choose to work with, as you will need to build trust with them.
I hope you find these tips helpful.