Finding the right counsellor or psychotherapist can be a daunting chore. What criteria are important when choosing through the extensive list of professionals that call themselves counsellors? First, a counsellor’s level of education is the first standard to investigate. A professional counsellor should have a minimum of a Master’s Degree. It can be a Master in Arts or a Master in Education, depending on the focus of their curriculum when they were at university. Why is a graduate degree important when looking for a qualified counsellor? The graduate program prepares the psychotherapist with a foundation of knowledge and skills that enables him or her to provide appropriate treatment and to establish a therapeutic relationship that is the catalyst for change. Additionally, each counseling student goes through a practicum in which they learn and actually counsel under the supervision of a qualified mentor. This internship is essential in implementing the skills and knowledge acquired and actually learning the art and science behind counseling. Valuable feedback and critique that is received during this practical experience is the cornerstone toward preparing a qualified psychotherapist.
Another helpful factor in choosing a counsellor is to find out if they are a Canadian Certified Counsellor and have the credentials CCC after their name. The certification ensures that the professional organization, Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association, has thoroughly screened the education and background of the professional and they meet the minimum standards as a qualified counsellor. It also means that the counsellor must follow an established code of ethics, continue their education to stay current with new research findings and scholarly practices and adhere to a professional standard of conduct. These standards of professionalism in the field are a good starting point.
*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA