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Before I started my journey, I didn’t know where to begin. I only knew that I needed help. In this post, I’ll be listing several things to consider when looking for a counsellor. In case you or someone you love is seeking guidance, I hope this post will help.
Please note that when I mention counsellor, I’m referring to both a clinical psychologist and a diploma-certified counsellor in Australia.
In my experience, knowing that the professional you’re going to be seeing has the qualifications to practice is a high priority.
Check their LinkedIn profile or even their business website if they have one. It could help with nerves once you know where the counsellor got their accreditation and organisations they’ve practiced at over the years.
You may be able to find client reviews too, which can be really helpful.
Websites and profiles can also clarify a list of industries and expertise the counsellor is passionate about including: working in hospitals, in a clinic helping people with eating disorders or in private-practice helping clients overcome depression, manage PTSD, family counselling and so forth.
Does their qualification and experience line up with what you’ve been struggling with? Do you think they could help you manage what you’re going through? If yes, that’s great! If you’re unsure, you can send an enquiry, call them or keep looking for other counsellors in the area.
2. Fees & affordability
Our mental health is important of course, but so is affordability.
Let’s not pretend this isn’t a topic to discuss. When I was looking for a professional to see, no one would mention or bring up the cost. At the time, I don’t think people around me knew or considered it to be a hindering factor.
Sometimes the counsellor’s website will have a fee section. In the instances where there is no mention, don’t be afraid to reach out either through email or phone to enquire. I know, enquiring can be daunting, but if you don’t ask, you will never know!
You may be able to find ball-park figures in Australian-based forums or on government/health/psychological websites.
Can appointments be factored in your budget? If not, are there ways to strategically shift your finances to put your mental health first and not break the bank? Would the Medicare rebate assist you at all?
I am a huge believer of compromise and doing my best to make the “impossible” work. So yes, I am biased in this way of thinking, but I do believe in the human ability to balance responsibilities for a healthier, happier life!
Once you have found a counsellor that is within your budget, you can look at other factors like where they’re located to prepare for a consultation.
Is there a car park? Is the distance a hindering factor for your budget? Do they have wheelchair access? Can you take public transport if you don’t have a car? Is getting to-and-from the practice safe and sustainable long-term if sessions continued? Another thing to think about, is when their next available session is – if it is in 2 weeks, would that be viable? If it is in 3 months, will you need to consider other options before then?
Take all of these questions into consideration. If you have any other queries and can’t find the answer online, give the practice a call, send a text message (if their mobile number is provided) or email the counsellor directly for clarification.
Now that you know the counsellor, what their fees are and where they’re located, it’s time to attend your first consult!
4. Are you comfortable?
Now that you have made a decision to attend a consultation, are you comfortable sitting in the room? Do you feel heard? How does the dynamic make you feel when you talk?
Note: A 21 year old female was having her first consult with a male psychologist. During the consult, she explained how childhood abuse from her father affected her in adulthood. The psychologist listened and enquired whether him being a male psychologist might hinder progress and perhaps cause discomfort (considering the therapist-client relationship).
It is the responsibility of a mental health professional to have the best interests in mind for each person.
It is also important for us to be mindful of our own role in noticing how we feel during and after a counselling session and take action if things aren’t working.
Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.Albus Dumbledore
A lot of people tend to talk about how important looking after our mental-health is, but not many people talk about the small steps it takes before you begin healing.
Here is a list of organisations that are here to help you:
- healthengine – Find a psychologist in Australia
- healthengine – Find a counsellor in Australia
- blueknot helpline 1300 657 380 – complex trauma
- beyondblue.org.au 1300 22 4636 – depression/anxiety awareness
- kidshelpline.com.au 1800 55 1800 – private, confidential counselling
- lifeline.org.au 13 11 14 – crisis support, suicide prevention
- qlife.org.au 1800 184 527 – LGBTI support site
- vvcs.gov.au 1800 011 046 – veteran, war-related support
- ReachOut – youth mental health and community forums
If you have any questions or thoughts, feel free to visit the above organisations, email me or leave a comment below!
Image by Joshua Ness.