The Insider’s Guide to Finding the Right Counsellor
Given that mental health is not something that is commonly discussed in the legal world it is unlikely that you will hear recommendations about good counsellors from colleagues. So how do you go about finding a counsellor?
It may sound obvious but the first thing is to check whether the counsellor is qualified because anyone can call themselves a counsellor (or therapist /psychotherapist) as the profession is unregulated. However there are a number of voluntary registers which have now been accredited by the Professional Standards Authority (see www.professionalstandards.org.uk for more details).
As well as checking the professional qualifications of a counsellor (and whether they are on a voluntary register) it is also useful to find out the type of counselling that they offer as there is a huge range of therapies available. It would not be possible to list them all here but some of the most common are:-
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) which as the name suggests focuses on thoughts and behaviours and how these can be changed.
Integrative Counselling in which the therapist may use various approaches to try to tailor the therapy for each client.
Mindfulness which encourages awareness of the present moment to improve mental wellbeing.
Person/Client Centred Therapy in which the client is viewed as being an expert on themselves and with the right conditions can achieve their potential.
Psychoanalysis/Psychodynamic Therapy which is based on the work of Sigmund Freud and explores how current behaviour may be influenced by unconscious processes and past experience.
Given that research has shown that one of the most important factors in counselling is the relationship between the counsellor and the client, it may be an idea to check out a few counsellors in the same way that you would get quotes from contractors if you were having work done around the house. Most counsellors would be happy to meet or chat by phone so that you can get an idea of whether you will be able to work together and whether they have experience of dealing with your particular issue. Some useful questions may be:
* What are your qualifications?
* Are you a member of any professional body?
* How long have you been practising?
* What kind of therapy do you offer?
* What are your fees?
* How many sessions can I have?
* How often are the sessions?
Counselling can be accessed in a number of different ways (through GPs, Employee Assistance Programmes, charities and voluntary organisations as well as private therapists) and what to expect will vary between organisations. So for example although it may be free to have counselling through your GP, a workplace counselling scheme or a charity, often the number of sessions you are allowed may be limited and you may not have a choice about either the counsellor you see or the type of therapy that you receive.
The cost of seeing a private counsellor will vary from area to area but can be between £30 to £60 per session although sometimes there may be concessions available for those on low incomes. If you feel that you would like a counsellor that has specific knowledge of working in law then Lawcare keeps a database of counsellors who have a connection with the legal profession (www.lawcare.org.uk).
If you would like any further information about choosing a counsellor or the different types of counselling then please get in touch.