Andrew Smith - Let's Talk More!
“Why the hell would I talk to a counsellor?” a friend of mine said to me once. “I don’t talk to the people I know about shit so why would I talk to a stranger?”
Opening up and talking about the things that trouble us can be a very difficult thing to consider. While our society is going through something of a social renaissance with more openness and acceptance toward groups, communities and topics that have historically been marginalised or brushed under the carpet, mental health still has something of a stigma attached to it. For some the idea of spending time to focus specifically on their mental health or life issues is completely absurd especially if they are not ready to accept that these problems exist for them.
Indeed, the idea of finding a counsellor can be a difficult one to comprehend and it may be challenging to turn the idea into action. However, as a person seeking counselling you are making a decision to confront your troubles and through this decision comes power that people do not always appreciate. Looking for a counsellor is a powerful step any person can take in their journey toward better mental health and today we will outline 3 things to help make finding a counsellor easier for you.
Despite the stigma that still exists around mental health the field of counselling is reasonably well-staffed. The private sector is host to many different practitioners with varying styles, approaches and levels of experience. When I was looking for a counsellor in my area I checked out Counselling Directory and found that I could not swing a cat without hitting a qualified therapist (and making a few people mad at me).
With such diversity of practitioners out there you have the luxury of choice so do not be afraid to meet with different counsellors to get a feel of how you could work together. Ultimately going for counselling is your choice so exercise that choice and shop around. Some counsellors offer special consultation sessions for new clients to give you both a chance to get to know each other so why not take advantage of that to make an informed choice of who you begin your therapeutic relationship with?
Are they Qualified?
While you shop around you may notice that there are numerous regulatory bodies that exist for the counselling profession. From the National Counselling Society (NCS) to the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) there are numerous bodies which hold the details of counsellors who have undergone appropriate training programmes that qualify them to be a counsellor that practices to their standard. Online directories such as Counselling Directory are populated by professionals who are insured, trained and are members of regulatory bodies meaning you are able to browse for counsellors in your area with the confidence that you will be in competent hands.
Are they Right for Me?
Now that you’ve found a place that is brimming with possible counsellors the next challenge is knowing who is right for you. Counselling is not one size fits all so it is important to consider that you can get many different types of therapy and service under similar labels. Doing research can be a challenge as counsellors may advertise different places they’ve trained, their therapeutic modality such as psychodynamic, humanistic, person-centric (to name a few) but what does all this actually mean?
If you feel that you’ve identified what it is you’d like to talk about then a logical step would be to contact a counsellor who advertises experience in that field. As you do this it is important to remember that we all experience life differently and that your experience is unique to you. While a counsellor may be experienced in working with things like anxiety or depression, due to the uniqueness of your experience it may take time for a counsellor to get to know you and appreciate what you’re going through.
Taking into account a counsellor’s experience and training is important when deciding who to go for however a significant factor to successful therapy is something less tangible; the relationship a person has with their counsellor. Different people have different styles of working and while one counsellor may be great at working with you that same counsellor will not have the same relationship. This goes back to the first point; shop around and give yourself time to find the right counsellor who you could work with to address your problems.
If counselling is a journey it is important to start it feeling as comfortable as possible. Allow yourself time to search, meet with qualified people and know that you’re the one receiving the service so you can feel empowered to ask questions and reach for what you want.
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