Finding a counsellor who you click with and who really gets you can sometimes be a tricky task. The thought of opening up to a stranger (though a trained professional) can be scary!
In a similar sense that not every person you come across will become your next best friend, finding the right counsellor may require some trial and error.
To streamline this process and get you on track and on your road to recovery, Vision has collated our best eight tips on finding “the one” for you.
1. Method of Contact
Welcome to the 21st century, where we are no longer constricted to just face to face contact. Many counsellors now offer sessions over Telehealth, Zoom, FaceTime and phone calls. These counselling sessions may better suit the lifestyle of those who live rurally, work FIFO or have conflicting commitments with traditional appointment slots. When choosing a therapist, consider which option feels and works best for you.
To ensure counselling is financially viable, checking with the service provider about session fees, rebates and potential discounts is a must do.
Many services offer rebates for psychology sessions from Medicare (Vision included) or student discounts.
Dependent on your health insurance service provider, you may be eligible for rebated appointments. It is always worth checking directly with your private health insurance provider.
Before booking in with a counsellor, consider what it is that has brought you in for counselling and what you hope to get out of it.
It is likely that the counsellor will ask you similar questions. This will ensure the therapeutic relationship is aligned from the start. It is important for you to contemplate such a question. This can help you check in later with yourself to see how you feel the therapy is progressing.
Counsellors specialise in a range of areas and can assist you with topics ranging from various ages, ethnicities, sexualities, life experiences. Psychologists can also specialise in working with different mental health disorders.
Do your research prior to booking an appointment (either by Googling them or contacting the practice directly) to find your best fit.
How safe do you feel to share and confide in your counsellor the feelings and experiences of your life?
Counselling, with initial appointments especially, can be daunting, and a good therapist will anticipate this angst. They will do what they can to help you feel more comfortable in letting your guard down.
With that being said, if you are at any stage feeling judged, criticised or discriminated against, feel free to walk.
If you feel comfortable, providing feedback (both positive and negative) is incredibly helpful for service providers in perfecting their service. This is why Vision offers a Post Therapy Support Program. It can give you the chance to let us know how you’re liking the service so far and how we can make it even better.
5. It’s Not Always the Fanciest Degree That Will Guarantee the Success of Counselling
Education is vital and of course you don’t want to confide in just anyone. But a counsellor with a degree from Oxford may not necessarily be any better (or worse) than a counsellor who has studied at a smaller university.
Again, it comes down to the experience and presenting rapport of the counsellor that will dictate how comfortable you feel – not the piece of paper framed on the wall.
6. Make Sure They are Licenced to Practice
This can be especially true in cases of profiles on the internet. Before booking an appointment, ensure the therapist has received relevant qualifications, professional memberships and ideally, further education and training.
All counsellors and psychologists at Vision are accredited counsellors with a diverse range of backgrounds. But if you would like to find more counsellors, visit the Australian Counselling Association.
7. Gender, Age & Other Identifying Factors
Before booking your appointment, consider your preferences of the counsellor you would like to meet with. Vision advises to execute this with caution, as prejudices and assumptions can easily come into play here.
However, if you feel you would genuinely connect with the therapist more, and get the most out of therapy if they were of a certain age, gender, ethnicity or other identifying factor, then feel free to advise at the time of booking your appointment.
Vision suggests doing a little introspection as to what it is that makes these preferences so appealing. Sometimes it’s the interaction with someone from the opposite gender, background or context that will have the most profound insights to share.
Perhaps your mother has recommended you see a counsellor that she saw, years back. Or your best friend, or loved one. Though they have only the best intentions by referring to you what they know as ‘the best’, don’t take this at face value.
By seeing a counsellor who is known to you within your intimate circle of relationships, you are introducing the possibility of over-identification with either the therapist or the therapist to you! Feel free to contact this therapist directly and ask for their recommendations or use your resources at work.
Your workplace may offer free counselling (for you and in some cases, your family) through an Employee Assistance Program. Contact your Human Resource department to find out how to access it.
For those who are not eligible for EAP programs, doctors and community centres can be an additional place to seek and find a counsellor who might just be the perfect fit for you.
You are the best expert on you
In saying all of this, you are the expert here. It does not matter how many recommendations or rave reviews a particular therapist has, if you do not gel with them, they are not the one for you. But do not be disheartened, for there are many more counsellors out there waiting to help you – with Vision’s team included!
If you’d like to know more about Vision’s counsellors, contact us or click here to meet the team.