Choosing a Counsellor

I am often asked to help friends and acquaintences find a counsellor who is local to them, and for advice about how to decide who to choose if there is more than one in their area.  So I thought I would post this extract from an article I wrote for Staffordshire Living magazine in July 2010:

There are a number of factors to consider when choosing a counsellor:

  • Qualifications – At the moment counselling/psychotherapy is an unregulated profession, so it is important to check out a practitioner’s level of qualification.  Ideally counsellors should be trained to at least diploma level with a reputable educational organisation.
  • Experience – It is important to know that your counsellor has been practising long enough to have gained varied experience.  A counsellor does not necessarily need to have personal experience of the issue you bring to them, or even to have worked with that issue before, but needs to be able to ‘put themselves in your shoes’ to understand what the issue means to you
  • If you are looking for a counsellor to work with a child, then it is vital that they have appropriate qualifications and experience of working with children and young people, as well as enhanced CRB disclosure.
  • Accreditation – If a counsellor is registered/accredited with a professional body (for example, the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy – BACP) this means they must have achieved a substantial level of training and experience and demonstrated this to the organisation.
  • Theoretical approach of the practitioner – Counsellors may offer ‘person-centred’, ‘psychodynamic’, ‘psychoanalytical’, ‘behavioural’, ‘cognitive behavioural’, or ‘humanistic’ therapy, to name but a few approaches.  Knowing what these terms mean, and which approach is going to suit you best, can feel confusing!

A good place to start is by visiting the website of the BACP http://www.bacp.co.uk where you will find lots of information about the different types of therapies available, together with a directory of counsellors/psychotherapists in your area.

The Counselling Directory, an online directory of counsellors in the UK offers this advice (www.counsellingdirectory.org.uk) “Remember, counselling or psychotherapy is an important step forward for you so take your time, read about as many counsellors and psychotherapists as you wish before deciding upon one that best suits your individual needs. You may also want to contact a number of practitioners before making your final decision. The most important thing is that you are comfortable with your choice and feel you can tell your counsellor or psychotherapist anything.”

If you need any further help or advice, please don’t hesitate to contact me

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