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How to choose a counsellor

You've finally made the decision. You would like some professional help for yourself or a loved one....but how do you choose a counsellor? There are so many. It can be bewildering.

In the UK the term counsellor isn't a protected title which means that anyone can call themselves a counsellor. It's really important to check that your counsellor is qualified and is registered with a professional body. To check you can easily go onto the BACP website to check your counsellor

There are hundreds of different types of therapy on offer which can be so confusing. It might surprise you to know that one of things that has a big greatest impact on whether it is successful or not isn’t the type of therapy but the relationship between you and your counsellor. This is why it’s important to make sure that the counsellor you choose is right for you. You might get an idea about that from their website but the best way is to chat or meet them. Any good counsellor will realise this and won’t be at all offended if you meet them and then decide to go to see someone else instead.

The counsellor you meet will also be considering whether they are the best person to help you. When they make contact with you they should ask some questions to find out if they will be able to meet your needs. For example, if someone contacted me because they wanted a diagnosis I would explain that counsellors can’t do that and that they should see their GP to be referred to a psychiatrist. However, I could give them support with how the diagnosis impacts on how they see themselves or with managing any symptoms they might be having.

A few years ago I needed to find a counsellor as part of my training. The first person I met was lovely and warm but I didn’t feel she challenged me enough. The second person spoke about herself and forgot what I’d said to her from one session to the next. The third person I tried was just right. Finding the right counsellor is a bit being like Goldilocks! It needs some perseverance.

Personally, I welcome any enquiries from people considering counselling. I know that I might not be the right fit for everyone but I’m very happy to point people in the right direction if I’m not the right person for them. The most important thing for me is that people get the right support so that they can improve their mental health and quality of life.

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