How do I find a counselling professional?

* physicians, professional associations, word of mouth, yellow page ads, referral services, employee assistance programs.

What questions can I ask without hesitation?

* Where did you receive your training? Do you have a diploma/degree?
* Do you belong to a professional association? Which one?
* What will be confidential in our sessions?
* How long have you been practicing?
* How many cases/situations like mine have you dealt with in the course of your career?
* Do you have medical references?
* Do you have a specific orientation in therapy? Can you explain it to me?
* In general terms, how would you approach my particular situation?
* How long do you think I will need for therapy?
* What are your beliefs about the use of medication?
* Do you keep clinical records?
* Can I invite a support person to all/some of my appointments?
* What do you believe about ? (divorce, abortion, homosexuality, religion, etc.)?

What you should know about fees

* What are your fees?
* When do I pay?
* How do I pay?
* Receipts

Scheduling, payments and fees

You should not be made to feel pressured to book for another appointment or enter a written or verbal contract for a pre-set number of sessions. Counselling sessions should be paid for and not bartered. They are typically paid for at the end of each session. You are under no obligation to pre-pay for your individual therapy. Counselling sessions are typically weekly and rarely do they exceed twice a week. What can I expect from a counselling professional?

He/she should

1. value people, their dignity, integrity and fundamental rights and freedoms,
2. respect the personal beliefs of all people, and
3. consider the interdependence between the physical, mental, psychological, emotional, moral, social and spiritual aspects of each individual.

You should be able to ask some basic questions over the telephone about the therapist's academic credentials, professional membership, years of experience in dealing with your particular issue, fees and references. The professional counsellor will typically keep telephone consultations quite brief. Discussing your problems at length over the telephone, doing a complete assessment, providing you with a diagnosis or a treatment plan does not reflect the professional conduct that you should expect from a qualified counsellor.

Some counsellors will offer a free consultation in their office ranging from 20 minutes to one hour. The purpose of this initial consultation is threefold:

1. to allow you to ask any questions about the therapeutic style of the therapist,
2. to meet the person so as to assess your level of comfort and compatibility,
3. to start on the therapy so that by the end of this consultation, you have enough information to make your decision.

Online Directory of Counselling Professionals