by Aicha Benayoune, MSW
Is counselling for me?
If you have a problem or a difficulty in your life, you may benefit from speaking to a counsellor. A counsellor can help with problems such as martial conflict, abuse, intimacy issues, communication difficulties, and problems with in-laws. While it can be a little intimidating speaking to a complete stranger, it can be very beneficial to hear an outsider’s perspective.
How does counselling work?
The first time you meet with your counsellor, you will have an opportunity to express your concerns. You should also have an opportunity to get to know your counsellors and ask any questions concerning their expertise and methods. Being comfortable with your counsellor is a very important aspect of effective counselling and successful change.
During the first few sessions you will agree with your counsellor on the goals of the counselling sessions. As a client, you should decide what the goals of therapy are and you should feel comfortable with the methods used in therapy. If you have any concerns do not hesitate to address them with your counsellor. The remainder of the sessions will be spent working towards the agreed upon goals.
What kinds of approaches to therapy are out there?
There are many approaches to therapy. They range from focusing on thoughts, emotions, behaviours, or past history. Many counsellors use a combination of these methods to help you. The type of therapy you receive will depend on the issues you are dealing with and the counsellor’s training and expertise.
How do I know which approach is best for me and my spouse?
You can ask your counsellor which methods s/he uses, which will be used with you and why. If you feel comfortable with those methods then you can continue with your counsellor. If you don’t, express your concerns to your therapist. A good counsellor will make sure to customise the counselling sessions to your particular case.
How long will the therapy take?
The length of therapy will depend on the goals that you set with your counsellor.
Larger more complicated goals will take longer to work through. Short term therapy usually takes 10-12 sessions, while longer therapy can take six months or more.
Will the counselling be confidential?
Counsellors cannot disclose any personal information without your consent. However, there a few exceptions such as: if a counsellor thinks that you may harm yourself or someone else; or if a child is thought to be in need of protection; or if a courtsubpoenas the counsellor’s records and testimony.
What are typical charges for counselling?
It is best to research what types of counselling and coverage may be available in your area. In Canada and the United States, many not-for-profit organizations offer counselling services at no charge.
In private counselling, typical fees can range from $75 to $200 per session. The cost may not covered by, the public health system in your area but it may be covered under some employee insurance plans.
How can I find a counsellor?
You can ask your family doctor to refer you to a counsellor. There are also online services that can help. For example, in a province like Ontario, you can find a counsellor by contacting social services organizations that offers counselling http://www.211ontario.ca for a list.
What if I am counselled to do something against my spiritual teachings or values?
If you are unsure of whether the counsellor will understand your spiritual or culture perspective, it is best to ask. For example, a client can ask if the counsellor has worked with Muslims before or about their depth of knowledge concerning your faith or culture. In the first few sessions, as your counsellor gets to know you, you may mention any spiritual teachings or values that are important to you and would like to be respected in the sessions. A counsellor cannot force you to do anything that is against your spiritual teachings or values. Sometimes counsellors are not aware of specific teachings that they must respect so they need to be told when you can’t follow through with their guidance.
What are some of the things to look for in a counsellor?
There are a number of things to look for in a counsellor:
Qualifications and experience: does your counsellor have the necessary education and experience to provide counselling?
Registration: counseling is a regulated field so all counselors must be registered with a professional body.
Counselling methods: ask your counselor about the methods s/he uses in counseling.
Comfort: you should feel comfortable talking and working with your counselor.
If this information is not easily accessible to you, you should ask the counselor for his/her resume and to tell you about his/her experience and qualifications.