Author: Elly Prior | First published: 01-09-2010 | Modified: 21-10-2017
If you're looking for a counsellor at the moment, I imagine you might be feeling quite upset with what's going on in your life.
I'm so glad you've landed here. I can help you deal with the confusion about which kind of counsellor you might want to consider working with. I'll give you all the information necessary to help you make that decision.
If you live outside the UK, scroll past the first couple of paragraphs. You'll find plenty of information after that which applies wherever you live. By the way, I'm talking about an 'Accredited Counsellor or Psychotherapist' - that is a UK term. In the US, you'd want to find a 'Licensed Counselor or Psychotherapist'.
For more specific information about different needs in counselling, have a look at the following pages:
Divorce advice and counselling
Human Givens Therapy
Hypnotherapy FAQ and downloads)
At the very least you'll want to ensure that your counsellor is accredited/licensed with a professional organisation. That way you can be relatively sure they are qualified and insured.
This is how you can find the details of counsellors in your area:
The information on this page is a guide. Try and trust that you know who is right for you - you'll have a 'feeling' about who you'd like to see.
If the person just doesn't feel or sound right to you, trust your instinct. Carry on looking for someone you can relate to.
Connect to a professional, licensed therapist at any time on any device.
For further information, see my page on mental health counselling.
Here are my suggestions for questions you might like to ask the counsellor you've decided to contact.
Pick the ones that you feel confident about asking, and/or that are particularly important to you. I've also explained why the information each question will give you can be useful for your decision making.
Make a note of the answer - just in case you'd like to ring that organisation at any time for further information.
A counsellor in training may be excellent at what she/he does, and is perhaps building on previous experience in another related job. However, you should know whether or not they're still in training.
If you want to find a marriage counsellor (couples or relationship counsellor), please do make sure that your counsellor has actually trained as a couple counsellor. Many counsellors decide to offer couple counselling without having had any or sufficient training.
You really don't want someone who has done their training through a distance/on-line course.
Counsellors may have been practising for a number of years. However, that doesn't necessarily mean that they have a lot of experience.
Particularly if they've only ever been in private practice, they may not actually have seen that many clients.
An experienced counsellor doesn't get stuck on the surface problem - he or she will be able to see the underlying patterns that generate and maintain frequently occurring difficulties.
This is particularly important if you're working shifts or if you rely on other people for childcare. Some counsellors or organisations might expect you to keep to a certain day and/or time.
Some counsellors are not concerned about extending a session. That means that you may become anxious about commitments you have arranged for after the session.
Most counsellors will want you to commit to one session a week. I personally (and indeed most human givens therapists) don't find it necessary for you to commit to weekly sessions.
Well... this may be a little bit like: how long is a piece of string?
However, the counsellor should give you some indication. Some will be of the opinion that you'll need many months or years to really benefit, or even to begin to feel better.
Those that do mainly short-term solution focused work are more likely to give you an average number of sessions.
This varies according to where you live, what approach the counsellor takes, how experienced he/she is and the length of the session. He/she may offer reduced fees if you're a student or are in receipt of benefits.
The counsellor's approach may mean that the sessions will be mainly focused on your past. You'll want to think carefully about whether that would suit you.
Is that likely to help you feel better? It may or may not. Certainly if you have suffered a very recent trauma, this approach is not advised.
The counsellor may or may not have any idea about how to deal with particular conditions. Some will consider that once you've dealt with any 'underlying' difficulties, those problems will be sorted too.
This is a given, if your counsellor belongs to a recognised professional organisation.
For more information on theories and approaches, read on through the rest of this article...
If you're interested in being able to distinguish between different theories in counselling/psychotherapy (a minefield!), then do ask the person you contact exactly how he/she works.
Counsellors and therapists are trained in different 'approaches'. How one counsellor 'approaches' you and your problem is likely to differ from another, according to how they're trained and how much experience they have.
Research has shown, though, that most experienced counsellors use skills and knowledge from different approaches. It seems that they naturally work more in line with the Human Givens.
It's also very useful if your counsellor has some idea about how the brain works!
Your first session should ideally be used to begin to deal with the problems, rather than just being an assessment.
You don't have to commit yourself at this stage – it's fine to say you'd like to think about it before committing yourself. You're also ‘assessing’ the counsellor!
I've noticed that people submit questions to search engines about ending counselling. These requests may of course come from counsellors who are training.
However, just in case you - as a client - are wondering how to end the counselling - read on for further information...
You may have questions about ending the counselling relationship. It's sometimes difficult to know how to end the counselling, particularly when you've built a good relationship with your counsellor.
Here are some questions that may help you to decide how to think through and articulate your wish to finish counselling:
If you're really not sure, you may like to discuss it with someone independent. You can do that, in confidence, by contacting the organisation your counsellor belongs to.
It's really important that you find the right person for you. If you're really unhappy after the first session - don't give up on counselling. Go through the process again.
If it's taken ages for you to pluck up the courage to even call someone, then keep that momentum going. You've done it once... and now you know how to find a counsellor or marriage guidance counsellor!
In the meantime, there's much that you can do for yourself. If you're having relationship problems, then hop over to my page Save my Relationship/Marriage, where I review a marriage recovery programme developed by Lee Baucom, PhD.
If you're suffering from depression, I so want you to start dealing with it as soon as possible to avoid you becoming more and more miserable. Depression is such a debilitating condition.
Try to get yourself out of that deep dark pit as soon as you can. You can do it without therapy - HypnosisDownloads have a team of experts in the treatment of depression, so I recommend their super-humane and user-friendly downloads. See my page: Hypnosis Online FAQ, where you also find my recommended downloads.
If you're struggling with relationship problems, have a look at my Relationship Advice Resources page, which has links to all kinds of ways you can start improving your relationship today.
I really hope this article is of help to you. :-)
I frequently update my articles based on feedback, therefore I really value your vote. If you think I've missed something, please do let me know in the comment section below.
Thank you so much in anticipation. :-)
The Human Givens Institute
British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP)
National Board for Certified Counselors
American Mental Health Counselors Association (AMHCA)
Australian Counselling Association
Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association