6 Tips for Choosing a Counsellor
Updated: Jun 25
There are many different types and styles of counselling and the terms “Counsellor” and “Psychotherapist” are not protected titles in the UK and anyone can use them. So, it is important you find yourself a reputable, qualified therapist.
Here are my top tips to choosing a counsellor that is right for you.
1. Look for one who is a member of a professional body?
Your counsellor should be a member of a professional body which is regulated by the Professional Standards Authority (PSA) such as the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP). Being a member of a PSA p
rofessional body means that they are fully trained and it also means they work within recognised ethical guidelines which are designed to keep you safe.
Most counsellors will display their professional body membership details on their directory listing or websites.
2. Decide what type of counselling you would prefer?
There are many different types, modalities, of couns
There are art or creative therapies. These may be particularly useful for you if you are a creative or find it difficult talking about things.
There are counsellors who focus on cognitive and behavioural therapy exploring the way you act and behave. Such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) which is widely offered by the NHS.
There are Humanistic Counsellors, such as Person-Centred Counsellors who help you to gain insight into yourself and focus on your self-development and achieving your highest potential.
Pscyhoanalytic and Psychodynamic counsellors which focus on your unconscious and how it affects your day-to-day life.
Integrative Counsellors who will use tools and techniques from different modalities.
There are many more types of therapy, and you c
an learn more about the above and others here: Types of counselling and psychotherapy (bacp.co.uk)
3. Decide how you would like to have the counselling, either online or face to face
Since the pandemic more counsellors these days are offering online sessions and outcomes are not suffering.
So, however, you choose to have counselling is entirely up to you. The important thing is that you feel comfortable in the session.
If online counselling is your thing, then this will op
en up more choice for you as you can widen your search area and look further afield.
However, if you are not comfortable with the thought of having online counselling then there are many counsellors who work face to face.
4. Where do I find a counsellor?
Once you have decided what type of counselling you would like and whether you would like online or face to face, you can start searching.
There are many places that you can look.
You can find a counsellor on independent directories such as Counselling Directory. Many independent directories require counsellors to have professional body membership, so you know that all counsellors listed are qualified and members of a professional body.
Membership body organisations, such as the BACP, have their own directories listing all their registered counsellors.
You can also search google to find a local counsellor. Many counsellors have their own website which often gives more detail about w
hat they do and how they work than you can find in the independent directories.
5. Choosing a counsellor - who is best for me?
This is the biggie.
You choose whoever you feel drawn to.
Look at their website or their directory listing and think about how you feel and whether it appeals to you? It could be that what they say or how they say it resonates with you. Are you drawn to their face or does the photo of their office sp
ace feel calm and welcoming? Maybe you are drawn to their location because it is near where you live or close to your work place.
It is really important that you feel a sense of connection with your counsellor, you will be sharing your inner world with them, and this is much easier to do if you feel comfortable and safe.
I recommend that you create a shortlist of two or three counsellors that you are drawn to.
6. I’ve got a short list of counsellors what next?
Now that you have chosen the counsellors that fit your requirements, contact them to arrange a brief chat.
This is where you really get a feeling of whether the counsellor is for you. Pay attention to their tone of voice and what they are saying. Do you get a sense of warmth, compassion and understanding? Do you feel you would be able to talk to them openly?
Do they feel right for you?
If you feel that the counsellor is not right for you, then let the counsellor know. As counsellors we know that we may not be the right fit for everyone, and the most important thing is that you feel at ease with your chosen counsellor.