Finding a counsellor who is a good fit can be a challenge, especially for someone who is seeking counselling services for the first time. Below I provide some helpful questions to ask yourself before you begin. My hope is to empower readers with information they can use when searching the Internet for services and when booking an appointment on the phone.
How Can I Fit Counselling into My Schedule?
Since life tends to be busy with multiple roles and responsibilities, the more convenient counselling is, the more likely one is to stick with it. I call this being ‘practical.’ In other words, once you narrow down your selection to a few counsellors in your area, find out if they offer evening and weekend hours. Does their schedule work with yours? Is there ample parking? Do they offer a sliding scale based on income? The idea is to not add more stress to your life. Giving some thought in advance to how you will fit counselling into your weekly routine helps make counselling manageable from the start.
What Will Facilitate My Comfort?
As a client once said to me, “It is strange talking to a stranger talking.” An essential ingredient of a successful counselling experience is the therapeutic relationship. This involves good rapport, collaboration, and a caring environment. You are likely asking yourself, how can I tell this from a web site or a phone conversation. Keep in mind that relationships build over time. However, knowing yourself, it can be helpful to ask yourself some questions about how you relate to others. Would you feel more comfortable talking with a female or male counsellor? Do age and years of experience of the counsellor matter to you? Are you open to working with practicum and interning students?
What are the Counsellor’s Credentials?
Being an informed consumer of mental health services is important. Look for counsellors, psychotherapists, and psychologists with graduate-level training and education (e.g., at least a Master’s degree). Ask about the counsellor’s certifications and licensing. For example, the Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association has a Canadian Certified Counsellor designation. Psychologists are registered within the Province or Territory in which they work; therefore, ask if they are registered in good standing with their College.
This first “getting started” post geared to finding a counsellor will be accompanied by future blog posts about finding a counselling approach that works for you and negotiating this with your counsellor. Your comments are welcomed. The views expressed are mine alone and do not reflect the views of the CCPA.
Dr. Debbie Grove is a psychotherapist working in Edmonton, Alberta. To learn more about her, visit her web site at www.learningtolive.ca
*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA