Lets face it - choosing the counsellor that best fits both your personality and your needs is not easy. There are so many different ways to look for a counsellor it can feel a little daunting if you are not sure where to start.
Where to Start:-
Search online for local counselling resources - A quick google search will bring up local organisations that offer both low cost and private counselling. Choose options which suit your needs. Initially consider things such as; the cost, travel time, areas of specialism, if there is a waiting list, do the hours fit around your schedule, would you prefer face to face or online counselling.
Ask a trusted friend - counselling is a personal experience, some people may not be willing to share information and you may not feel comfortable asking for recommendations but if you have this opportunity it's a good starting place. It's important to bear in mind that this is just a starting place. A counsellor that is a good fit for one person may not be right for you.
Contact your local G.P - Some general practice surgeries offer their own counselling services. If they do not then they will be able to provide you with other alternatives.
Explore counselling directories - Whilst these can seem a little daunting to start with looking on counselling directories where counselling must register to be members offers you peace of mind that they are fully qualified. Examples of some of the more recognisable directories are below - this list is by no means exhaustive:-
The British Association of Counsellors and Psychotherapists - counsellors advertised on this directory have to adhere to the BACP qualification and professional standards requirements.
Psychology Today - counsellors in this directory need to be verified by psychology today as being qualified to a certain standard
Counselling Directory - counsellors in this directory have all met the counselling directory verification policy requirements
National Counselling Society - counsellors in this directory have to have received training to a minimum standard to be accepted onto the register.
So, now you have a short list:-
Try to think about what you specifically want from counselling, ask yourself:-
What am I thinking of going to therapy for, does the counsellor work in this area?
What are my goals from therapy?
How do I want my counsellor to behave? Do I want to decide on the content of each session or do I want my counsellor to take the lead?
Would I be happy with any ‘homework’ I may be given?
What ‘approach’ will I feel comfortable with?
Can I commit to regular sessions
Understanding what you are looking for will help you to choose appropriate counsellors from your short list.
It's time to contact your chosen counsellor or organisation:-
Different organisations have different processes but all will have a contact email. Feel free to message them and they will reply with instructions on how to seek therapy from their organisation
Many private counsellors offer a free telephone call or face to face session to see if you can work well together. Feel free to contact more than one so you can get more of an idea regarding the differences offered.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions, a good counsellor will give you the opportunity to ask whatever you need to.
Here are some questions to be mindful of:-
What training have you received?
Have you received specific training in my area of concern?
Are you a member of a professional body? Which one?
How much do you charge?
How long are the sessions you offer?
Do you offer regular reviews?
What is your cancellation policy?
What style of therapy do you offer?
How much experience do you have working with my area of concern?
Do you work face to face and online?
What do you consider the most important factors in therapy? A good counsellor will tell you that the most important factor in counselling is the relationship between the counsellor and the client.
Hopefully these questions and the counsellors response will help you to make an informed decision. Remember, if after a few week you feel that the relationship isn’t developing or you feel uncomfortable you are well within your rights to bring this up in a session and to change counsellor should you feel the need to.
I hope this brief article helps you to feel a little more confident in your search for a counsellor who fits well with yourself.