The role of a counselling professional, psychologist, or therapist (hereafter “counsellor”) is to enable you, the client, to explore the many aspects of your life and feelings. Talking openly and freely in a supportive, relaxed, confidential environment makes the counselling experience a safe one. In contrast, talking to family and friends instead of counselling is rarely helpful because those relations are likely emotionally involved and have their own opinions and biases that do not respect your experiences and your “truth”.
What are some of the qualities of a good counsellor?
- A good counsellor creates an environment of trust and confidence.
- A good counsellor will explain their policy on confidentiality as it is defined by their professional association or regulating body, and any exceptions to confidentiality (e.g. if the counsellor believes you are at imminent risk to harm yourself or a specific, identified person). The confidentiality policy should be presented in written form, as well, with your signature confirming understanding and agreement.
- A good counsellor neither judges nor gives advice, and they will not compare your situation to that of another client.
- A good counsellor will never be judgemental no matter what you say.
- A good counsellor will never get emotionally involved. They will have empathy and this will be expressed by encouraging you to be frank and talk openly about your feelings and emotions.
- A good counsellor will help you to see things more clearly, possibly from a different (healthier, more reasonable) viewpoint (sometimes you just can’t step out of your own shoes and get the perspective you need to solve your own challenges…a good counsellor can help you get that perspective).
- A good counsellor may encourage you to examine parts of your life that find difficult to face. They may explore early childhood and young adulthood experiences, but this is typically not their focus. If they do, it is to shed light on why you may be reacting to given situations and offers insight into how you might change this for the better.
The ultimate aim of counselling is to enable you, the client, to reach a new understanding of your challenges , help you make healthier choices, help you determine a new path of action, and follow-up with you to ensure that this path of action is one that is working for you.
For more information about counselling and therapy, the following resources may be helpful.
- Canadian Professional Counsellors Association. https://www.cpca-rpc.ca
- Canadian Mental Health Association. www.cmha.ca
- Canadian Counseling and Psychotherapy Association. https://www.ccpa-accp.ca
- The Federation of Associations for Counselling Therapists in B C. https://www.factbc.org
- Counselling Psychology. American Psychological Association. https://www.apa.org/ed/graduate/specialize/counseling.aspx
- Psychology Help Centre. American Psychological Association. https://www.apa.org/helpcenter/
- Who needs counselling? PsychCentral. https://psychcentral.com/lib/who-needs-counseling-10-therapy-myths-dispelled/