Choosing Therapist or Counsellor: Things to Look Out for

Today, more and more people have realised the benefits of therapy for self-care and mental health purposes. However, the search for professional help can be quite overwhelming, especially with the large number of counsellors and therapists out there. So, what should you be looking for?

Qualifications

For those dealing with stress, life-changing events or general difficulty going through the day, the first and best option would be to see a registered counsellor or psychologist. It is recommended to find mental health practitioners who have completed counselling college courses and are a member of professional organisations such as the Psychotherapy and Counselling Federation of Australia (PACFA) or the Australian Counselling Association (ACA). If you believe your case is medical – for example, clinical depression, ADHD, dissociative disorders and others that require treatments beyond therapy – you may opt to see a psychiatrist.

Health Insurance Options

Check your health insurance policy to see if it covers visits and prescriptions, as well as if your provider works with any health professionals in your area. If you qualify for the Better Access program, you can receive Medicare rebate for a number of visits. If you don’t have the suitable health insurance, you can try finding help from social workers in your local community health centres or non-profit groups. Don’t forget to check out organisations like Beyond Blue, ReachOut, Lifeline or the Black Dog Institute for free and low-fee counselling services.

Ethics

A good counsellor or therapist should be able to tell you how many sessions you’re going to require after the first assessment, so that you don’t have to pay for more than you need. The counsellor should also make you feel confident that your problem is going to be addressed and worked through. Watch out for cases when counsellors and therapists talk about themselves more in a session with a patient.

Compatibility

Finding a good therapist or counsellor is, in the end, a case of compatibility. Before committing, ask about their experience in handling cases like yours. Consider their background, which may facilitate or hinder a better understanding of your problem(s). In the first visit, discuss their therapeutic approaches and views on mental health. See if they are responding to your queries in a supportive, non-judgmental way and trust your guts.