Picking out a counselor is an experience that many find confusing and even intimidating. It’s hard to know just how to pick, how to get started in doing so, and what they should expect.
Any time I meet with a prospective client initially, I always emphasize how essential the therapeutic relationship can be. I personally think that this is essential to a counseling relationship. I truly think that you are expert in terms of yourself. My job as your counselor is enabling and facilitating you in regard to the chances you’d like to make. So, it’s crucial that you feel comfortable and safe with me or whoever you wind up picking to work with. Something that might help you out is knowing that you have the choice in terms of who you wind up working with. It’s not a situation where the counselor decides that they’re the best person for supporting you. You might actually want to meet up with a number of counselors before you make your final choice about who you work with, and that’s okay.
Never fear asking your counselor questions in your first meeting, as you should likely ask questions about just how they work. That’s fine to do, and I invite my prospective clients permission to do this.
There are other points you might should think about when picking out your counselor, and they are:
Be sure your counselor is registered with a code covering ethical practices. In my home country, that might be the British Association of Counseling and Psychotherapy, or BACP, or the United Kingdom of Counseling and Psychotherapy, or UKCP.
Verify that your counselor is accredited and qualified. You’ll often find this information on the website or business card of the counselor, but you unfortunately do need to verify it yourself to make sure that it’s up to date and even true in the first place.
See to it that the counselor witnesses routine supervision over their practice.
Discuss the topic of confidentiality. Counselors sometimes have to breach confidentiality if they’re worried about your safety or if they think you’ll be a threat to anyone else.
Also discuss the number of total sessions you’ll go to. Once your counselor meets you and assesses your situation, he or she is likely to have some sense about whether or not you’ll need long- or short-term work. Never fear asking about this; the information is always a guess, but it can be insightful and useful to know.
If you already know a specific issue that you need support with, such as the aftermath of childhood trauma or an eating disorder, it’s good to ask your counselor if they have professional experience in the treatment of that exact issue.
Also go over their cancellation policy about missing sessions. You should know this from the start.
More than anything, keep in mind that your connection with your counselor is critical to the success of the work you put into this, so you need to choose someone you like and then can trust.