What should I expect from a counsellor?

Counselling Quote: People are just as wonderful as sunsets if you let then be... When I look at a sunset, I don't find myself saying. 'Soften the orange a bit on the right-hand corner'... I don't try to control a sunset. I watch with awe as it unfolds.

A good counsellor/therapist knows that you are the person who knows yourself best because every single experience you have had is completely unique to you. It is the combination of these experiences mixed with learnt behaviours, genetic predisposition, personality, and social conditioning that make you who you are. Perfectly imperfect!

Because you are your own expert, each session should be led by you. This allows you to keep control over what you bring to each session, and means that you do not have to go to difficult places until you are ready to do so. You won’t get the most out of counselling unless you are open and honest.

Choose the right person

This is really important! You want to find someone who is the best fit for you. Someone who you feel understands and can relate to you, and someone who works in the area that’s troubling you. For example, if you are looking for marital counselling you need to find a relationship counsellor who works with couples.

Don’t be afraid to stop seeing someone if you find that you just aren’t getting on with each other, if you feel judged, or if you just feel that they don’t understand where you’re coming from. A bad counselling experience is often because you had the wrong counsellor.

What should I be looking for in a counsellor?

Central to good counselling is the therapeutic relationship. What that means is  the trust that builds between you and your therapist. To facilitate this, your counsellor will fulfil these three important requirements:

  • your counsellor accepts you exactly as you are
  • your counsellor is honest and open about how they experience you
    and your world
  • your counsellor sees your world from your perspective 

Your chosen therapist should create a non-judgemental, warm, kind, and welcoming space that allows you to feel held and supported. As trust builds, you will feel able to disclose whatever is troubling you. Your counsellor will help you to explore your own feelings, beliefs, and behaviours, so you can become more self-aware. As you find your own hidden resources, build your self-confidence and resilience, you will gain the ability to develop healthy coping strategies. This is the start your journey to better physical, mental and emotional health.

Ideally your chosen therapist will be a member of a professional organisation. However, this is not a legal requirement. Do not be afraid to stop seeing someone if you are ever made to feel uncomfortable or judged. If a counsellor is sexually inappropriate report them to their professional body. For more information visit the British Association of Counsellors and Psychotherapists (BACP).

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