Help is available, but choosing the right kind of help can be a daunting task

If you’ve decided you would like to speak to a counsellor, you may be feeling apprehensive and even overwhelmed. We would like to make this task less daunting, and even - dare we say it - enjoyable.

Seeking counselling is an incredibly positive step, so you should feel calm and confident when searching. To help with this, we’ve put together a few questions you should ask yourself when choosing a counsellor. These pointers will help make the task less scary.

1. What am I comfortable with?

When people think of counselling, they tend to picture themselves in a face-to-face scenario with just themselves and the counsellor. While this is a popular option, it is not the only option. If you don’t feel comfortable doing this, or you aren’t able to travel, you may want to consider online or telephone counselling. These methods aim to make talking therapy accessible to everyone.

You may even want to consider group therapy, where a counsellor facilitates meetings between groups of people who share similar challenges.

people in a group discussion

2. How do I identify what I need help with?

For some people, what they need help with will be clear and fit neatly under a specific mental health concern like ‘anxiety’ or ‘depression’. For others, however, it isn’t so clear cut. The truth is, you may need to talk to a counsellor about how you’re feeling to identify what you need help with. Alternatively, you may want to try counselling simply to help explore yourself, rather than ‘fix’ a problem.

If there is a particular concern you want to address, it can be worth seeking out a counsellor with experience/training in this. This will depend on the nature of your concern, but it can be helpful to know the counsellor you’re seeing has a good understanding of what’s troubling you.

By taking the first step, you are opening yourself up to the possibility of change and ultimately happiness - that’s something to be proud of
3.  Is there a certain ‘type’ of therapy for me?

There are many different types of talking therapies available, from Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), to psychoanalytic and psychodynamic therapies - but how are you supposed to know what they are and which is right for you? In many cases, this is best left to the professionals. However, if you want to explore your options, the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE) outline their recommendations for which therapy types help with which mental health concerns. You could also do some research yourself to see if a certain type of therapy speaks to your values and beliefs.  

4. Should my counsellor be qualified?

The term ‘counsellor’ isn’t legally protected, meaning that technically anybody could call themselves a counsellor. With this in mind, you are always encouraged to check that the counsellor you are seeing is appropriately qualified for your needs. There are hundreds of courses and qualifications counsellors can take to improve their knowledge so it can be hard to know what to look for.

Our advice would be to look for a counsellor who is a member of a counselling professional body. These bodies check the qualifications and training of their members before they join. They also have a code of ethics which their members must adhere to, ensure members have insurance and provide complaints procedures, so you know exactly what to do if you’re unhappy.

5. How do I know if a counsellor is right for me?

Once you’ve narrowed your search to a short list, it can help to find out a little more about them and the way they work. Counselling is all about connection. If you are unable to connect and open up to your counsellor, you may struggle to get what you need from them. Learning more about how they work can give you a better idea of whether or not they are right for you.

two people having a conversation

Be open to contacting a few counsellors and asking them some initial questions if there’s anything you want to know before booking a consultation. Try Counselling Directory, where you can view an array of counsellors in your area. Your consultation then becomes a great opportunity to talk more, so you can see what they can offer you in terms of support.

To find to a professional counsellor in your area, please visit Counselling Directory