I’m a big advocate of counselling. If you ever been in a session with me you know I can’t stop talking about how important I believe it is. Looking back, I probably wouldn’t have survived my dysfunctional family and the impact they had on me if I didn’t get professional help (read my story here).
Finding the right counsellor can be difficult, I’ve lost count of how many counsellors I’ve had in my life. The deeper I got into this work, the more I realized what a counsellor can do for you. I realized what type of a counsellor can heal my wounds.
I had to look and look until I found “the one” and let me tell you this, he was worth waiting for.
Were other counsellors not effective? Not at all, but they were only giving me band-aids to heal my deep wounds. Band-aids help, they cover the wound but they fall or wear off after a while. I needed stitches, and someone to be there while I got each stitch. At some point, I realized my wounds were way deeper and using a band-aid wasn’t enough. I do want to emphasize that providing a band-aid is not a bad approach, it’s like the warm-up before you’re ready to dig deep and heal – what I have learned though is you need a counsellor that can provide both options when you’re ready.
So here is what I found helpful in changing therapists and finally finding “the one”.
You have to like them! For so long I dreaded going to my dentist, I hated it. After reflecting on it, I realized I didn’t like my dentist. After realizing this, I tried a new dentist and now I have less of that “ouch” feeling in my gut when I go see them.
The same goes for your counsellor, you have to connect with them, like them, and respect them. What was important for me when choosing my counsellor was I needed a counsellor who was open, transparent, and one that disclosed information about themselves in small doses when it was relevant. Disclosing about themselves helped me see them as human and not as an authority or someone better than me – I could relate to them. It’s the relationship between the therapist and the client that heals wounds, regardless of the education, clinical approach or even years of experience. So, viewing them as a human with all their challenges and struggles helped me connect with them more. Helped me build the therapeutic relationship with them which is essential to healing.
Another piece I found helpful was, I needed a counsellor who is not scared to guide me to deeper places to face my darkest pains. Only a counsellor who has dealt with their own pain can do that for you, which brings me to my next point.
I have a difficult time trusting a counsellor to help me who hasn’t done their own work and doesn’t continue to work on themselves. Would you take your car to a mechanic whose car is broken but they are still trying to drive it and won’t fix it? I don’t think so.
Also, a good counsellor meets you right where you are, they have no agenda of their own and they let you lead the session. They can assess and see if you need someone to listen, empathize, if you need tools, or if you’re ready for stitches.
In closing, when you’re searching for a counsellor, start with a consultation. Interview them, ask them questions, notice if you feel like you’re connecting with them. I feel so happy when people come in and they ask me questions. It shows me they want to invest and are committed to starting their journey.
“You got to love this work!”