So you have decided to seek the help of a counsellor and now begins the task of finding the person best suited to you and your unique circumstances. The counselling journey can be a tough one and you’ll want to make sure the person you choose to travel alongside you is someone you think you will feel comfortable opening up to. The great news is that if you don’t find the right therapist the first time, you can always choose again.
Identify your ‘wish list’ and factors to consider. Are you restricted by cost? Do you know what kind of counselling you would like? (It is perfectly normal not to know this, but you might have a preference, which is absolutely fine too). Do you want someone who specialises in your particular issue? Do you want to see someone in your home town? Or perhaps, someone away from where you live? Do you have a preference as to the gender of your therapist? (It’s ok to feel more comfortable speaking with one or another). Taking some time to think about the factors that are important to you will help you narrow down the choices.
Take your time researching available options. If you are looking for face to face sessions, decide how far you would be comfortable travelling for appointments and begin researching within that area. For online or telephone counselling, you don’t need to be restricted by distance. You can use a search engine, such as Google, or go to one of the dedicated counselling directory sites where therapists can list their services. Here in the UK the three most popular ones are BACP, Counselling Directory and Psychology Today.
Read through counsellor profiles to get a feel for each one. Make a short list of the ones you feel drawn to. This is the part of the process where your gut instinct can come into play. Some counsellors will offer a free initial phone consultation or appointment for you both to suss out if you think you can work together. I offer a 20 minute initial consultation for this purpose.
Make enquiries with your shortlisted counsellors to check if they currently have availability. Draw up a list of questions for them – you might want to know things such as whether they can accommodate your preferences regarding days/times of appointments, their fees, relevant qualifications, whether what you’d like to explore in counselling is within their area of work. There is no such thing as a silly question and no question too big or small – ask anything you feel you need to know to help you make your decision.
Research tells us that the relationship with your counsellor is one of the most significant factors in the outcome success of therapy. If you don’t find your ideal fit the first time, I would encourage you to try again with another counsellor.
With my first counsellor I knew almost immediately that I was never going to feel comfortable enough with her to venture to the depths of what I wanted to explore. I only had a couple of sessions before bringing our counselling to a close and resuming my search. My next counsellor was a better fit for me and I managed to work through some deep-rooted stuff that I hadn’t really opened up about before.
At its best, counselling with someone with whom you feel safe, who really ‘gets you’ and can support you through the ups and downs of your therapeutic journey is a brilliant, and often life-altering, experience.
If you’d like to explore whether I might be a good fit for you as a counsellor, you’re very welcome to contact me to ask questions, book a consultation call…whatever you need to help you make your decision.
Whether you make contact with me or not, I wish you the very best of luck – I’m rooting for you!