Quick Tips for Finding a Counsellor You Can Connect With
As Therapists who've been to therapy - we may be able to help you find a counsellor you can work with...it isn't as tricky as it may seem - even in a small city like Kingston!
Why Go to Therapy? How Does it Work?
Therapy or counselling can be a scary and unfamiliar place - even if you’ve been to see someone before. People may see therapists for many reasons - some we’ve heard are; to feel better, become unstuck, increase confidence or self-esteem, reduce anxiety or depression, manage anger or symptoms of trauma, gain balance or decrease relationship or marriage conflict. So, to sum it up...for any reason you see fit.
Ideal counselling is personalized for you - to help you reach goals you’ve decided you’d like to work on - not something the therapist, or anyone else for that matter, think you need to work on. How long will this take, you ask? As long as it needs to. There is no predetermined amount of time, no set number of sessions. While you’re encouraged to be in counselling for as long as you’re comfortable and receiving the benefit, you certainly don’t need to be in it forever. In saying this, it is important to know what your desired outcome is. We ask you at the beginning - how will you know when you feel better or that you’ve reached your treatment goal? We want to have a focus - and we want you to feel that we have a shared end goal - and as much as it may sometimes feel like an easy-going relationship or conversation over coffee - there is a purpose and endgame. It is our job to create that comfortable relationship and atmosphere - that doesn’t mean that there isn’t hard work being done.
Therapy really should be a partnership. We feel honored that our clients want to share space with us and we very intentionally focus on creating a supportive and trusting relationship first. This relationship allows you to become empowered, feel safe, and dig deep to do the important work. Counselling is also about more than just talking. It is about learning new coping skills and trying them out in a safe and objective space.
What Should You Even Look For?
We might be biased, but we think number one on the list should be a connection. It is difficult to discuss your deepest fears and desires with someone if you don’t feel comfortable. There is no secret formula to follow in finding someone who would be a good fit for you. Only you can tell. I always encourage people to call - most therapists if they don’t offer a consultation, will at least chat on the phone so you can both check out the vibes.
The education, specialties, or “theoretical approach” (aka style) a counsellor uses is also key to pay attention to. You want to find someone who specializes in what you’re looking for, or need. The style used by therapists refers to different schools of knowledge a person has training in. Some examples would be cognitive behavioural therapy, psychodynamic, solution-focused, etc. We like to use an “eclectic” approach which just means we use what schools of therapy we think would be best for you.
Whether you’re looking for counselling for mental health, anxiety, trauma, individual therapy, marriage counselling, I hope these tips help get you closer to finding a good fit and helping you feel better.
Amanda Hammond is a Registered Psychotherapist, Certified Addiction Counsellor and Registered Social Service Worker. She has over 17 years of experience and specializes in supporting women, substance use and couples counselling - not in any particular order. While originally from Napanee, she has lived in Kingston, ON for the last 20 years. She loves shiny, sparkly things, plants and learning to cross-stitch.