Choosing a Counsellor
Choosing a professional to help with your life can be daunting.
Most counsellors and psychotherapists are kind, professional, attentive and helpful, but there are factors to consider when making your choice, and things to avoid.
1. Remember it’s not the approach that works - it’s the relationship.
There are many approaches out there (cognitive-behaviour therapy, dialectic behaviour therapy, interpersonal psychotherapy, EMDR to name just a few).
But in all cases, a therapeutic relationship feels like meaningful, purposeful work. It expects a reasonable level of commitment from both people, has a sustainable pace and shared goals. It is focused without being impersonal and relaxed without being distracted. You feel like you are contributing your strengths and developing your edges. It never feels like one person is an expert on how to be happy. If you find yourself talking to someone like that, see number 2.
2. Voice your doubts when you have them.
Doubts and concerns are an important part of any process, and counselling is no different. Being open with your doubts and concerns is often the beginning of a meaningful turn in a session, and a good counsellor will welcome you sharing whatever is on your mind. By the same token, you should avoid anyone who treats your doubts and concerns as symptoms of your problem.
3. Let values be your guide.
While you cannot expect a counsellor to agree with you about everything you think, or tell you everything about themselves, you can ask them about their values when it comes to things that are significant to you, such as religious beliefs, ethics, ideas about parenting etc. Especially if knowing their thoughts will help you feel safe to talk openly.
Which brings us to the last point. When choosing a counsellor/psychotherapist, you are choosing someone who will care about what you think and feel. Whose perspective you will come to value. All in the safety of a professional relationship.
So, be discerning and thoughtful, shop around, ask questions. After all, meaningful change is not an exact science, it’s a learning journey.
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