What to look for in your counsellor?

Looking for a counsellor can be one of the most confusing times. Often people have never looked for a therapist or counsellor before. See just there, are they called counsellors or therapists? Personally I find the word is used interchangeably. Below are some questions, with my views on some of the answers.

When and Why would you look for a counsellor? Because you need to talk confidentially about something in your life, with someone who won’t be in your life for any other reason, or judge you for your thoughts. Someone who will be professional, helpful, caring, honest, kind about what you are feeling. Someone who will not talk about your issues with others but will care and help and focus on you.

Where would you look? Local paper? Internet search? Leaflets? Doctors? Word of mouth? All of the above? – Well that’s where I’d start anyway. None of them is right or wrong, some people prefer recommendations for friends or doctors/nurses/medical professionals, others prefer to search privately on the internet, or some people see a leaflet or advert and realise they need to talk about something. Online you could look in several places the NHS offers this as their counselling page https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/counselling/ with good links to professional bodies that will help you find a therapist. There is also https://www.bacp.co.uk/search/Therapists or https://www.counselling-directory.org.uk/

What qualifications should they have? Certificate, diploma, undergraduate degree, postgraduate masters, doctorate, accreditation? Counsellors can be qualified at all the above levels. It depends on their academic skills, their practical application and their need for training. Also life experience can be very important, as well as counselling practise hours. Sometimes it is best to talk to your counsellor/therapist to see if they have the right training or experience for what you wish to discuss.

What type of therapy do I need? There are again many types of therapy/counselling. Person centred, integrative, Gestalt, mindfulness, CBT, behavioural, psycho-dynamic, art therapy, play therapy, emotion focused therapy, psycho-analytical, solution focused, the list goes on. Again I suggest you find the therapist who can offer what you feel you need, sometimes unless its a specific therapy for a specific illness most therapies and therapists can work with most issues, they just do it in a different way. The outcomes are most often the same positive result for the client.

Are they registered, do they have a governing body? Do they have to keep up to date with training? In answer to this I will say that people are often registered, but they do not have to be. Ethically a lot of counsellors would like professional registration to be part of our qualification criteria rather than just a recommendation. My governing body BACP has a counselling register that you can check to see if your therapist is qualified etc https://www.bacp.co.uk/search/Register?q= other professional bodies include https://www.bps.org.uk/ and https://www.nationalcounsellingsociety.org/ these all have similar requirements in terms of ethical practise, continued training, and registration. One is not necessarily better than another, its often a practitioners preference or therapy modality that guides their choice of governing body.

I hope that this blog has been helpful to you. If you would like to discuss anything Wright Minds can offer counselling therapy to those in and around the Stoke-on-Trent and Newcastle-under-Lyme area.