Tips for Finding a Good Counsellor
We believe choosing the right counsellor or therapist is one of the most important decisions you’ll make. Not only for you, but also for your family and your relationships.
Here are 4 areas to consider:
Does the Counsellor Specialize in the Area for which you’re Seeking Treatment?
Although most counsellors have at least two degrees (Bachelor and Masters) and have been trained to be generalists in a variety of case types, they tend to specialize in particular areas, such as anxiety or stress, depression, relationship concerns, working with young children, past trauma, grief and so forth. Ultimately the more a counsellor has focus, experience and supervision in the areas you’re looking for help, the better your chances of success are.
What Theory or Framework Does Your Counsellor Adhere To?
Popular research has concluded that there are now over 400 types of counselling theories. So, how do you know which one will work best for you? First, identify if the theoretical model has been proven by research. For individual therapy, Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Solution Focused Therapy, Narrative Therapy, Client-Centered Therapy, EMDR, Motivational Interviewing, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), Emotion-Focused Therapy (EFT) and Psychodynamic Approaches have all been shown to be powerful and effective in helping clients reach their goals. For couples counselling, the three most recognized models are the Gottman Method, Imago Therapy and Emotion Focused Therapy (EFT). Counsellors will often adhere to an eclectic approach, meaning they will draw from the strengths of several theories to tailor the best treatment for their clients, but that said, the theories they are drawing from should be ones you are comfortable with and have been shown to be effective.
Most Living Well therapists draw from an eclectic approach that includes Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). To learn more about CBT click here.
Is the Counsellor Interested in Understanding Your Goals?
Some clients can feel frustrated paying someone to simply ‘talk’ for an hour. Therapy should be more than venting to a neutral party. Your counsellor should seem interested in the problems you are facing, but also in where you’d like to go and how they’re going to help you get there.
Do you Feel Comfortable Working with the Counsellor?
This is the most important of all 4 points. You could find a counsellor that specializes in the area your seeking treatment for, adheres to a research proven framework and understands your goals, but you just don’t feel comfortable working with them. If this happens, research has shown that the first 3 wont matter. You must to have the ability to build a strong therapeutic alliance with the counsellor that is helping you get to where you want to go. You might not always like your counsellor (a good counsellor will challenge you!) but overall you need to feel good about their personality, approach and methods. The best way to find this out is during a free consultation. That said, even if after a full session or two you are not connecting with your counsellor’s style, listen to your gut and consider a transfer. All counselling agencies that believe in the importance of good fit will understand your desire to find someone that is more suited to you.