MEETING A POTENTIAL COUNSELLOR- WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW!
So, you have made the decision to start counselling in order to speak about issues, problems or worries in your life. You have looked through some profiles, sent some emails to potential counsellors, and now you have booked an introductory call with your potential counsellor.
What happens next?
Getting the right counsellor is key to a successful counselling relationship. Most importantly, you need to be happy and comfortable with the counsellor you will work with to be able to benefit fully from the experience.
So, below are some tips to help you in terms of what to expect and also what you can do when speaking to a potential counsellor.
Why are you seeking counselling at this time?
It is impossible to cover everything in the first meeting. And if it is an introductory call, there will be no need to go into great detail, especially if you are asked ‘What are the reasons that you have chosen to come to counselling at this time?’. That part is for the actual counselling sessions.
However, when asked this question, try to be as clear as possible about why you have chosen to come to counselling. The reason being is that initial calls are primarily done to make sure that the counsellor feels that they have the right skills or training to work with you.
Therefore, if you were to say something, for example, ‘I want to overcome an eating addiction’, a counsellor who may not feel they are the best fit for this issue may refer you to someone whom they know, who works with this issue. It’s the same as going to see an optometrist for eye issues and not a cardiologist!
Don't be afraid to ask questions.
A good counsellor will always offer you the opportunity to ask questions referring to counselling.
So, if you do have any questions, or maybe if you are reading this and you have not thought about it, then certainly do note down any questions you would like to ask! This can be related to their working times, fees, the way they work, duration and how often sessions are... etc.
Honesty is important.
During the initial contact, it is highly likely that the counsellor will ask you some questions. Some of them may be of a more sensitive nature. So again, it is highly important to be honest when answering these questions. This again is so that the counsellor can decide whether they are the best fit for you, or whether the method of counselling, for example, face to face/telephone/online counselling, may be the right method for you.
These questions are also asked as part of a duty of care towards you. The counsellor will endeavour to direct you to someone of a better fit, if they feel that they themselves, for whatever reason, are not the best match for you at this time.
Book your first session!
After having spoken to a counsellor, perhaps take some time to think about it before booking a session immediately. Perhaps you have spoken to more than one, so think carefully about with whom to proceed with.
However, if you feel happy with what you have seen, then go ahead and book your initial session!
On the other hand, if you did not feel the connection this time, continue the search process. There are thousands of counsellors out there, so you will surely find one that matches your needs!
Now that you have started your counselling, perhaps you are feeling that things are not changing as fast as you had hoped.
In response to that, I use the expression ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day’.
One way of looking at this is that the issues we bring to counselling are usually long-term ones, so it is possible that it will talk a bit longer than you expected before you start feeling any real change within yourself.
Counselling as a whole is a gradual process and will require a level of patience from the client. So do not despair if you feel you are not seeing change within a few sessions.
Trust and have patience in the process!
Not every counsellor will be your perfect fit.
There have been instances, unfortunately, where the counselling experience was not a good experience for the client. Negative experiences can ultimately discourage the client from seeking counselling again, as they come away with the impression that all counselling and all counsellors are the same, and so ‘Counselling doesn’t work for me’.
This is very unfortunate as the former statement that all counsellors are the same is not true. Assuming that the counsellor they saw was a professional and practised ethically, it could be simply that the way they worked did not fit the needs of the client at that time. And this may not become apparent until the actual counselling sessions begin.
This can actually be considered another part of the counselling process, as it has highlighted to the client what does not work for them. I would like to think that after such an experience, the client would again start looking for another counsellor This time they would have the experience in regards to what kind of counselling would be helpful to them, after having experienced what kind of counselling was not helpful.
All part of the learning and growth process!
(I would also like to add that if a client ever felt a therapist acted unprofessionally or unethically, then they have the option of reporting them to the counsellor’s ethical body).