So, you’re thinking there is something in your life you would like to change, but you’re not quite sure how to go about finding the right person to help you?
The first thing you will probably do is to check an internet listing for a Counsellor near you. You might also talk to friends about recommendations, or look on the websites of professional associations, such as PACFA, the Psychotherapy and Counselling Federation of Australia, for accredited Counsellors in your area.
A good way to find out more about particular Counsellors and Psychotherapists is to check their websites, where you should be able to see their qualifications, accreditations and professional memberships. Membership of a professional association means that the therapist has completed appropriate training, and adheres to professional standards. They are also required to undertake ongoing training and supervision. For example, I trained with the Metavision Institute, completing a course that is accredited with PACFA, meaning that it meets certain strict standards, and I am bound by a Code of Ethics.
Making an Appointment
It is a good idea to ring first, to meet your Counsellor over the phone before booking an appointment. This will help you to determine if the person you have chosen might be the right person for you. Some counsellors specialise in specific areas of interest, such as relationships or trauma, which may or may not be what you are looking for. My particular interest is in supporting children and families through understanding behaviours.
At this time, you can also ask about fees and payment terms before making an appointment. Appointments usually last for one hour, and some therapists will suggest booking in for a longer session for your first visit.
Your First Visit
At this visit you may be asked for details such as name and address, your usual doctor or medical practitioner, and whether you have seen a therapist previously. You will probably also be asked to sign a Therapy Agreement, which sets out details such as confidentiality, the agreed fee, explains the therapists particular mode of therapy, what to do if you meet up socially, or if you’re not happy with anything about your sessions. Then you will be invited to discuss the reasons for your visit.
You will probably be sharing some deep, emotional issues, so its important to find someone you can feel comfortable sharing your personal experiences with, someone you feel you can trust, feel safe with, who you feel can relate to what you are experiencing and offer empathy and compassion, and can sit and simply listen to you, without offering judgement or advice.