How to choose a counsellor

It can be a very daunting prospect taking the step to contact a counsellor. For some people it can take many months of thinking about it before building up the courage to do so.

Counselling is not a regulated industry in this country. This means that the title of counsellor is not protected so technically anybody can call themselves a counsellor even if they have not had any type of training. It is advisable to only see a counsellor who has undertaken specific counselling training. However, not all training is equal. Counsellors who have had rigorous training means that they have attended at minimum a class based course leading to a Level 4 diploma for a prescribed number of hours, they have undertaken personal counselling during their training and have done at minimum 100 hours of working with clients in a placement. Some counsellors train at degree and masters level.

As counselling is not regulated there is no governing body which counsellors are registered with. There are however numerous membership bodies which counsellors can voluntarily sign up to. These bodies provide an ethical framework for counsellors to consider in their work with clients. Not all counsellors choose to be a member of a membership body.

Where do I search for a counsellor?

There are numerous ways to search for a counsellor including undertaking an internet search in your local area and checking the websites of those counsellors that come up.

There are also directories such as Counselling Directory (there are others) which lists counsellors and therapists. Directories such as this will check the training that a counsellor has undertaken and whether they are registered with a membership body. You can search for counsellors in your local area. Each counsellor’s profile is written by them and will provide details such as areas of work, fees, location, specialisms and a general insight into how the counsellor works. There are often links directly to the counsellor’s website, if they have one.

Asking people that you trust whether they know of any counsellors can be a good way, particularly if they know someone who had a positive experience with a counsellor.

What are you looking for in a counsellor?

What to look for when searching for a counsellor is very much down to you. Things you might consider can include:

  • Would you like to see them in-person, online or via the phone?
  • Are there personal qualities you are looking for in a counsellor?
  • Is the gender of the counsellor important to you?
  • Is there a particular modality of counselling you would prefer e.g person centred, psychodynamic, integrative, CBT etc. It is beyond the scope of this blog to go into the differences of these, but this might be something that attracts you to a particular counsellor.
  • Do they need to specialise in the issue you need help with?
  • Is cost an issue? What can you afford? Do they offer a discount?
  • Would you like to work with a counsellor who is part of your own community e.g someone from the LGBTQIA+ community, religion, gender identity or racial and cultural background?
  • Do they offer an introductory discovery call to see whether initially you might be the right fit and that they have the skills, training and knowledge to help you?

The list goes on.

How do you know if you have chosen the right counsellor for you?

Research has shown that it is the relationship between the client and the counsellor that is the key to the success of counselling. It is crucial that you find a counsellor that you feel comfortable with. Therefore, the first meeting you have with the counsellor whether that is in-person, online or via the phone is important. Whilst you may (or may not) have felt nervous, did you feel comfortable when you met them and throughout the session? Did they put you at ease?

Never be afraid to tell the counsellor at first meeting or at any time that you do not think you are the right fit for each other. As counselling can involve talking about some of your innermost thoughts, feelings and secrets you need to feel able to bring those things into the room. If you get the sense that the counsellor is not right for you then you are unlikely to feel comfortable to be open and honest about what is going on for you.

It may be that you try a few counsellors before you find one that is the right fit for you. You do not have to stay with a counsellor just because you have met them once.

Whilst it is important to feel comfortable with your counsellor, this does not mean that sessions are always going to be easy and comfortable. Counselling can be difficult, painful, emotional and even anger inducing at times. This does not mean that your counsellor is not working in your best interests. Sometimes your counsellor may challenge you and this is part of their role. If they agreed with everything you said then you could end up going round in circles and not achieving what you want from counselling. However, your counsellor can still be non-judgmental and empathic when challenging you. Often when a client leaves a session feeling vulnerable it can mean that they have become aware of something important.

Counselling should not be something that you dread having to go to. If you are finding that you are always dreading it, then it may be that something about counselling is not working for you. This could possibly be:

  • You and the counsellor are not the right fit
  • You may not be ready for counselling at this time as counselling involves putting in the hard work, in and out of sessions
  • You might need to take a break from counselling

or there may be some other reason. It is always a good idea to talk to your counsellor about how you are feeling because it may be that it is something you can figure out or seek to understand together.

Please get in touch today

If you are interested in having counselling with me, please contact me today. I am contactable via phone, email, WhatsApp or via my contact page . I look forward to hearing from you and welcoming you to my counselling room.