Nine Tips to Find the Right Counsellor for You

Posted on September 21, 2017

You have decided it is time to go into psychotherapy – but how do you select a fitting counselor for you? Beginning this process may be overwhelming and confusing, but if you take these nine steps as a guideline, you will be able to find the ‘right’ professional for your needs.

1. Counselor or psychologist
The main difference between these two professionals is their education, so deciding whether a counselor or a psychologist fits you better is mainly driven by which kind of approach you would like your sessions to have: A psychologist will put most emphasis on diagnosis and relief of symptoms, since he or she is trained in the medical model treatment approach – that is to assess, diagnose, and implement treatment interventions using therapy models like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) or other.
A counselor on the other hand, is trained in the therapeutic model, where the person is at the center of therapy, and emphasis is on the counselling relationship and principles of empathy, unconditional positive regard and genuineness.

2. Ask your friends
Word of mouth is often an easy way to find a fitting professional for you, since your friends’ recommendations will be based on their personal experience and their first-hand impressions of the counselor or psychologist.

3. Research the counselors/psychologist’s professional affiliations
There are different kinds of affiliations professionals might be part of, depending on the country of their education and practice. Every counselor or psychologist should, for example, be affiliated with an Accredited Professional Association (APA). In Australia, there are two main associations for counselling professionals called the Psychotherapy and Counseling Federation Association (PACFA) and the Australia Counseling Association (ACA). Other associations your counselor or psychologist might be affiliated to are the Australian Association of Social Workers (AASW) or the Australian Clinical Psychologist Association (ACPA). In general, you will find all information regarding their affiliations on their website, or by asking the organization they work for.

4. Research his or her qualifications and experience
Although psychologists and counselors will take on clients with many different kinds of issues to work on, most will invariably develop an area/s of expertise as they continue their practice and pursue professional growth. For example, some psychologists specialize on couple and/or marriage counselling, while others will only take on clients with issues like anxiety, alcohol dependence, or substance issues.

5. Check out his or her official website
Before making an appointment, you want to get a ‘feel’ for the counselor/psychologist. Their website is just the right place to get this first impression and read more about their education and background.

6. Talk to him or her over the phone
Take the time to write down a few questions that you could ask on the phone so that you ensure the professional is a ‘good fit’ for you and the issue you would like to work on. A personal conversation (on the phone, or face-to-face) can establish much more than the information you hear – it can tell you whether the other person is a good conversational match. Small indications like speech, tone of voice, pauses, etc. will make you automatically feel positively or negatively towards the other person.

7. Gender
Taking into account which gender you prefer in your counselor or psychologist is a very straight forward guideline. You will have to make this choice based on your personal preferences, depending on what you are more comfortable with.

8. Location and professional rooms
Location is an important factor not to be overlooked. You will want your counselor to be readily accessible and feel comfortable in the space in which they work.

9. Cost
There is a very broad spectrum, when it comes to the cost of a counselling or therapeutic session. The price can change based on the professional’s years of experience, his or her expertise, whether you will be attending the session by yourself or with your partner/family, whether they work in a private practice or represent an organization for which they are employed, and the list goes on.

Category(s):Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Couple Counseling, Marital Counseling, Other

Source material from Waters Edge Counselling