The Good Counsellor Dilemma
There are many people out there that would love the opportunity to talk to someone, to feel heard and say the things they can’t tell other people in their lives. This is why people opt to go see counsellors, psychologists or psychotherapists.
Maybe you are apprehensive about picking a counsellor or psychotherapist because you don’t know what to look for or you may have been burnt in the past. May be your therapist didn’t remember who you were even after a few sessions, maybe they got your name wrong, maybe they did not remember your case or the details that you had shared earlier. Maybe they were distracted or just not present with you during the session, maybe they were tired or gave advice and did not teach you helpful tools that you could take away and use.
How To Choose A Good Counsellor/ Psychotherapist To Go To?
There are so many qualities that make a good counsellor or psychotherapist. The usual attributes that people notice are: good communicator, good listener, giving you undivided time and attention and of course a decent level of skill and expertise. Here’s a few attributes that are often overlooked but often go into making a good counsellor.
1. A Good Counsellor Is Not Judgmental
Finding a counselor or psychotherapist who is non-judgmental will make you feel accepted and offer you the freedom to share and express anything in a session. This is highly imperative as the therapy room is your safe space.
2. A Good Counsellor Does Not Give Advice
A good counsellor teaches a client how to take control of his life by encouraging and allowing them to make their own choices. Telling a client what to do in a particular situation is to take control of a client’s life for them, thus making a person feel more helpless. This is not the goal or point of counselling and psychotherapy. Counselling should empower you towards making you independent, confident and equipped to make your own choices and decisions.
3. A Good Counsellor Teaches You Skills and Builds Internal Resources
A good counsellor/ psychotherapist will teach you skills and tools that will slowly empower you to work through difficult situations on your own. It could be breathing exercises to help you calm down when situations get heated, or it could be ways to sooth yourself when you are hurting and sad. Your counsellor may teach you ways to ground yourself and be present in the moment for the times you dissociate.
4. A Good Counsellor Has Healthy Boundaries
A good counsellor teaches clients to identify the areas where they have shaky or no boundaries in their life and helps clients set healthy emotional and physical boundaries. A good therapist sets healthy boundaries within the therapy room as well. Boundaries keep people safe and allow for healthier, intimate relationships filled with respect for the other person.
5. A Good Counsellor Possesses Empathetic Qualities
Kindness, compassion and empathy are key in a good therapeutic relationship. These qualities foster healing within a client. Many people have not grown up in homes that are warm, loving and compassionate. Many children were not treated with empathy when they were sick or sad, instead their illness or feelings were dismissed. When children grow up to be adults, they have learnt to treat themselves the way they were treated as children and often times that includes a deep lack of empathy towards self. A good counsellor will be empathetic towards you and teach you to be empathetic towards yourself as well.
When you are paying for some one’s time the person you choose to see should remember you each and every time. A good counsellor remembers you, your story and situation no matter how many clients they see in a week. You as clients deserve to be treated with respect, seen and remembered.
Here are some practical things you can do before finalizing on a counsellor:
- Call a few different therapists, see how you feel when you speak with them on the phone.
- You are allowed to interview the counsellor, ask questions and see if their responses match up with what you expect or what you would like for yourself.
- Looking for a good counsellor is like shopping. You have to keep looking till you find one that works the best for you.
Unfortunately this can be a long process for some and others may find a good counsellor right away. Remember you are important and you deserve a good counsellor, especially when it comes to mental health.
Now when you are looking for a good counselling experience you know what to look for! Make sure you feel important, seen, heard and understood in your counselling session. A good counsellor is a good fit for you and helps you find the missing pieces!
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