Perhaps it will surprise you to learn that the fit with your counsellor is the best indicator of success in counselling.
Take a moment and think about that for a second.
If your relationship with your counsellor is an indicator of how counselling, something you have probably contemplated for months or years, is going to go, should you really just be happy with whomever you may find?
In my opinion, no.
Dr. John Gottman’s decades long research tells us that couples will wait an average of six years from the moment they contemplate counselling to actually making the appointment. That is a long time for resentments, troubles, and unhappiness to build. For both couples and individuals, finding that moment that everything lines up and counselling seems doable can feel like lightning in a bottle. How can you best capitalize on that moment and make sure you match with the best counsellor for you?
With so many counsellors advertising their services, how do you know who will be the best fit? I want to help you navigate this, frankly, overwhelming process. There are so many counsellors to choose from, especially now that so many have moved to teletherapy, and this is exciting! You are no longer limited to who is nearby; you can extend your search and cast a wide net.
When you have found a few counsellors you are interested in, it is time to reach out to them. I suggest finding 3-5 counsellors rather than just reaching out to 1. Remember that counselling profiles you see online are limited and really cannot demonstrate what we can offer you, and to mitigate that you can ask for a short 10-20 minute meeting, or consultation, to assess the fit. You would try on clothes or take a car for a test drive, why shouldn’t you get the chance to get to know your counsellor before setting up a session?
The Consultation Tips
This is your opportunity to determine if what the counsellor offers is what you need. Put some thought into what you are looking for before the consultation. One way to do this is to think about a past counselling experience or a time where you felt heard and validated. What did you like about that experience that you would like to see in your counselling?
It’s natural to be nervous but remember that you are interviewing the counsellor not vice versa.
Have an idea of what you are wanting to get out of counselling. You will likely be asked this question so the counsellor can tell you whether or not they can be of help to you.
Most importantly, ask questions. I cannot stress this enough. You are investing your time, energy, and money into this experience so advocate for yourself. Here are some questions I always appreciate getting from potential clients:
a. Based on what I am looking for how do you think you can help me?
b. Do you ask for feedback from your clients?
c. How do you know whether or not your clients are making progress?
d. If I feel that you are not the right fit for me what are the next steps?
e. If something changes and I am struggling financially will you be willing to adjust my fee?
f. Do you require a minimum commitment up front or am I able to discontinue counselling at any time?
You are embarking on something very exciting by reaching out to counsellors; you are making the first step towards the life you want to be living. As counsellors, we are just lucky enough to walk beside you for a period of time.