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Finding the right counsellor.

It’s easy to find a counsellor but perhaps more difficult to know if you’ve found one who is right for you. There are a number of questions you can ask that will help you to choose the counsellor that is right for you.

Here are a few considerations and suggestions when exploring and selecting a counsellor that is the best fit for you:

1. The most important factor is what it feels like for you to sit and talk with the counsellor? Do you feel safe and comfortable? Is it easy to make small talk? Is the person down to earth and easy to relate to or does he feel cold and emotionally removed? Is the counsellor “stuck in their head,” or overly emotional and emphatic? Is the therapist a “know it all” or arrogant? Sure, for many of us, going to a therapist for the first time is a bit anxiety-provoking, and it’s important to tease out our own “stuff” from the actual counsellor. But, if a counsellor doesn’t feel like a good fit for you, that’s okay; there’s absolutely no contract or rule requiring you to continue working with any counsellor.

2. What’s the counsellor’s general philosophy and approach to helping? Does your counsellor approach human beings in a compassionate and optimistic way? Does he or she believe humans are born loving and lovable?

3. Can the counsellor clearly define how he or she can help you to solve whatever issue or concern has brought you to therapy? Experienced counsellors explain how they can help, are able to give you a basic “road map,” to their approach, and can even give an indication of how you will know when therapy is finished.

4. Does the counsellor encourage dependence or independence? Good therapy doesn’t solve your problems; it helps you to solve your own. Likewise, good therapy doesn’t soothe your overwhelming feelings; it helps you learn to soothe your own feelings. Like the old proverb, therapy is most powerful when it helps people to learn to fish for themselves rather than rely on another to feed them. If your counsellor provides wisdom, answers, or emotional support without encouraging you to access your own resources, it is more likely you will become dependent on your therapist to help you feel better, rather than learning to depend on yourself.

5. Has your counsellor done his or her own therapy? One of the best ways to learn how to help someone to heal is to do your own therapy and to experience the healing process firsthand. Thus, therapists who have been in their own therapy benefit from this as a learning experience and are probably better equipped to help because of it. Most good healers have wounded healers—those who, in the process of healing their own wounds, have developed the know-how to help others to heal theirs.

6. Does the therapist have experience helping others with the particular issues for which you are seeking therapy? What does their website tell you about their background and education? The more experience therapists have addressing a particular issue, concern, or problem area, the more expertise they have developed.

7. Is the counsellor licensed? Licensure implies that a counselor has engaged in both extensive counseling training and supervised experience. It also means the counselor has passed a licensing exam. There are unlicensed therapists who have years of experience and do excellent work, but licensed counsellors have (generally but not always) jumped through more hoops and have undergone more extensive supervision than unlicensed counsellors.


1. Ask for recommendations from friends you know have seen counsellors in the past. Good therapists get many of their new clients through referrals for a reason. Remember that the right therapist for your friend may not be the best therapist for you.

2. Look for a counsellor that offers a free initial consultation by phone or in person. Prepare a list of questions of what is important to you and bring them to your first meeting.

3. Review a counsellor’s website and look for specific experience, approach or credentials related to your issue.

Contact me to set up a free consultation to explore how I can help you.

Certified professional counsellor in Victoria BC.