Home Clinical Psychology & Psychotherapy How to Know if Your Counsellor Is the Best Fit for You

How to Know if Your Counsellor Is the Best Fit for You

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Ever wondered if you’re seeing the right counsellor? Maybe there could be someone out there who is a better fit for your specific needs. A counsellor is a mental health professional who is trained to give you guidance on personal or psychological problems using different approaches and techniques. 

Seeing a counsellor can do wonders to help you deal with your different difficulties and circumstances in life, but in order for them to help you, you need to feel like you can trust them. So, therapy is somewhat like dating; you need to find the right person, and sometimes, the first person you see just isn’t the right fit for you. But how do you know if they’re going to be the ones who can help you or not?

They actively listen to you

The role of a counsellor is to do more than just listen to you; it is a significantly large part of it. You know when someone is actively listening to you and engaging with what you are saying. Listening is a skill with many facets, and a good counsellor will hear what you’re saying, understand them and be able to interpret your thoughts and feelings to be able to use them for your treatment. 

They should also be indicating to you that what you’re saying is getting through to them. You’ll notice a good use of eye contact and facial expressions, and they posture themselves in a way that says “I hear you”. Another good indicator that your counsellor is listening is if they regularly try to summarise what you have said before asking a question or giving you advice.

If you feel like your therapist is consistently distracted while you’re speaking, this is the first sign that they’re not the one for you.

They are strong communicators

A good indicator that your counsellor is a strong communicator is that they listen more than they speak, but when they do speak, they are clear and take their time to ask the appropriate and important questions. Overall, they need to be able to help you understand your symptoms and condition as easily as possible and guide you through your treatment effectively. You know you have a good counsellor when they take the time to rephrase questions and statements they’ve made if you haven’t understood them. 

They make you feel validated

With everything you’re experiencing, thinking and feeling, your counsellor should be the one person who makes you feel validated throughout. This is not to say that they will agree and approve of everything, but they will acknowledge and accept the truth of your experiences. Good counsellors try to avoid showing approval, as it is considered a value judgement. 

They check in with you on a regular basis

Another sign that you have found a good counsellor is if they take the time to check in with you regularly. They understand the concept of seeing a complete stranger and opening up about topics that you may find sensitive and difficult, and so they will make an effort to build a professional relationship with you and make you feel more comfortable.

They show that they only want what’s best for you

A good therapist understands that their priority is making sure that you feel comfortable and receive the best treatment available. They will, therefore, offer you resources and recommendations throughout your sessions and recognise when they are not suited or qualified to handle your specific case. They should also respect the choices you make, and you should never feel like you are forced into anything. 

A good counsellor is there to offer resources and recommendations while also respecting your agency. You should never feel like your therapist is forcing you to do something you don’t want to do.

You start to notice a change in yourself

The whole reason you meet with a mental health professional is to help you see positive changes happen in your life. This doesn’t mean that it will happen overnight or even in a month, depending on the therapy, which means you will need to give your counsellor a chance to help you over at least a few sessions. Generally, talk therapy takes about 15 to 20 sessions for you to notice any resolved symptoms. But if you start to notice positive changes, even in the first month, no matter how small, it’s a sign you’ve got one of the good ones. 

They challenge you in a respectful manner

As we mentioned previously, your counsellor should be someone who validates you, but they should also be able to challenge your thinking respectfully. Sometimes, therapy involves asking questions about irrational thinking patterns; it might be uncomfortable, but your counsellor should never make you feel guilty, damaged, or stupid. Then, it’s best to consider seeing someone new. 

Final thoughts

Counsellors are professionals who are qualified and devoted to helping you improve your mental well-being. Before you even start a counselling session, you need to check their credentials and ensure they are qualified. In no circumstance should you ever feel victimised or worse than you did when you came into the session? If you have been wondering if you are seeing the right counsellor, consider the points mentioned above as a measure. 

Anyone who has a passion for helping people through difficult circumstances should consider furthering their studies and earning their graduate certificate in counselling. If you’re serious about becoming a qualified counsellor, this will allow you to continue on to do your graduate diploma or your master’s. 

Jeffrey Grant, a psychology graduate from the University of Hertfordshire, has a keen interest in the fields of mental health, wellness, and lifestyle.

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