How do I choose the right counsellor?
When you decide to get some help and support for yourself or a loved one, the hope will be that this is an easy process. After all, you've overcome what for many is the hardest hurdle by seeking help in the first place. As such, the Counselling Directory is a safe and professional place to come and look. The trouble is, who and how to choose?
A recurring problem can be the sheer numbers of people to look at. And the amount of information to process. Getting 'stuck' before you even got started can raise anxiety in itself.
I want to help you in making the right choice and have prepared in this article a short guide to help you make up your mind. It is by no means definitive but, I hope, will give you enough pointers to reduce any decision making anxiety and allow you to make an informed choice within your own control.
As you will see, each counsellor has a profile which describes their background, how they work and what they can offer you. This is important information. However, when you are feeling anxious, information overload is not helpful. It can be physically difficult to see the words to read anyway. So we need to try and keep decision making as simple and straightforward as possible.
Here are some top tips to help you choose, wherever you may live:
1) Do some pre-work. If you know what is troubling you, such as anxiety, do a little research in terms of best treatments for that condition. It doesn't mean that is the only method but you can then check if your counsellor is able to offer those conditions for you.
2) Therapy is a partnership. Make sure the therapist wants to work 'with' you and not 'on' you.
3) Don't be a hostage to gender! Counselling stereotypes aren't helpful. For example, many female clients tell me that they have found it easier to process difficulties involving males with a male therapist supporting them, as it helps them reframe their feeling about men in a positive way. And the same can be said for men with negative experiences of women and then working with a female Therapist.
4) Photo analysts. They say the camera never lies but seriously if the counsellor has a video be sure to check it out. It will save you time and also give you a real sense of the person you might be working with.
5) Gut feel. Sometimes you might see a phrase or hear something in a video that draws you to that person. This is fine so long as you remember that you can choose to engage or disengage with that person if it isn't working for you.
6) Use technology. Give yourself as much flexibility as you can to make sessions easier. Consider a mix of one to one, Skype or phone. Your therapist doesn't have to live around the corner anymore.