Choosing a Counsellor/Therapist

I have supervised students and offered peer consult to fellow therapists so my mindset is always on BEST PRACTICE. When you are choosing a counsellor/therapist in British Columbia, you need to know that as of today’s date, ANYONE can call themselves a counsellor. As a Registered Clinical Counsellor with the British Columbia Association of Clinical Counsellor, and in my work on the Ethics Complaints Committee for the Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association, it is my responsibility to educate the public around SAFETY in your choice of counsellor or therapist.

Here are a few suggestions:

Check credentials or ask. Your counsellor or therapist should be educated with a minimum of a Master of Arts or equivalent in Counselling Psychology. She should be able to discuss her THESIS, course work, and practicum experiences in detail.

Check registration or ask. It requires time, effort and financial investment to become a Registered Clinical Counsellor in the province of British Columbia. Your counsellor should be able to provide you with her BCACC Registration Number (see “Credentials” on this web site). Although not strictly necessary, it is further professional evidence if your counsellor can also provide you with her CCPA Certification Number (see “Credentials” on this web site). To be a Certified Canadian Counsellor with the Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association, certified members must complete Continuing Competency.

Ask for her Professional Disclosure Statement (see “Professional Disclosure Statement” on this web site). You can compare her fees to the “Recommended Fee Schedule” at the British Columbia Association of Clinical Counsellor website http://bc-counsellors.org/   It is also recommended that she provide you with a Payment Agreement form along with a comprehensive Informed Consent document when she is beginning her relationship with you. This will not only show you how transparent she is prepared to be, but it will also help you both avoid unnecessary misunderstandings regarding late arrivals, no-shows, and outstanding invoices. Finally, you are entitled to request a copy of your therapist/counsellor’s Personal Protection and Policy Information Page which she is required to maintain in the province of British Columbia.

Once her credentials and professional status are determined, you must make sure that you and she are a match. You will want to feel safe and comfortable with this person. She should be nonjudgmental and professional. She should ask you what your goals are for therapy, and she should offer you useful tools and strategies going forward. If she is not a match, move on. If you encounter a problem in therapy, try finding the courage to speak openly about it with your therapist. If you cannot, I strongly encourage you to call the British Columbia Association of Clinical Counsellors at 1-800-909-6303.

These are just a few useful tips and questions to ask when you are choosing a therapist/counsellor. If you have other questions, please do not hesitate to e-mail me at spiritfirstcounselling@gmail.com or call me at 250-792-2501.