What does a Counsellor actually do?

Therapist expressing empathy as she counsels a young patient.

When it comes to knowing who to turn to for support when you are struggling, the choices can be overwhelming. Understanding the different roles for who can help support your mental wellness can be extremely useful in assisting you to make a decision about who to see. Counsellors are professionals who are trained to help you work through specific problems such as additions, relationship problems, parenting issues, grief and loss, sexual assault, domestic and family violence to name a few. Counsellors give you a safe and confidential space to unpack your thoughts, feelings, emotions and behaviours. Usually counsellors work from a talk therapy basis.

A great counsellor will support you and allow you to feel heard and understood in a non-judgemental way. Their role is to guide you in your journey of mental wellness, whether that be by revisiting your traumatic life experiences to make sense of them, or by looking forward to the life you want to live. Deciding what sort of counselling style will suit you best is a very personal decision and researching different styles can help you work out what will be most effective for you. Sometimes you might need to speak to a few counsellors to find the right fit for you and this is perfectly normal. You aren’t going to like every counsellor’s style and you need to make decisions based on your own personal needs.

Counselling is a confidential process where everything you discuss is only between you and the counsellor. There are situations where this may not be the case, however your counsellor should be discussing these with you prior to commencing counselling. This is called “Limits to confidentiality” and applies when you may be a risk of harming yourself or someone else. Make sure you take the time to understand what this means to you in the counselling space and ask questions if you need to. No one needs to know that you are seeing a counsellor which can be beneficial if you prefer to deal with your issues privately. A counsellor cannot provide you with a diagnosis, however they can suggest a course of action if they feel that you may need the extra support and can provide you with ongoing counselling support through the process of a diagnosis. Knowing you have someone who can support you unconditionally can be a huge benefit in maintaining mental wellness through challenging times. Counselling can be a long or short term process dependent on your needs.

So how do you choose the right counsellor for you? Firstly, you should ask if they are a member of a certification body. The peak bodies in Australia and the Australian Counselling Association and the Psychotherapy and Counselling Federation of Australia. Both these webpages offer a search for a counsellor service where you can find a counsellor servicing your area. More and more counsellors are also offering Telehealth appointments now as well.

Next, does the counsellor’s therapeutic style suit your needs? For example, if you choose a counsellor who uses a person-centred, narrative approach, but you want a counsellor who can give you solutions, you will find that the experience is unsatisfactory as the counsellor will not give you what you want. Think about what you want to achieve from counselling and consider this when choosing a counsellor. You can always ask them if you are unclear on how they provide help. Consider whether your counsellor offers a free enquiry call for you to get an understanding of their process and what you can expect from attending counselling with them. Ask to see the counselling agreement/contract so that you are aware of what you are signing up for and ask about their fees.

Counselling is generally fee for service and often there are no rebates for fees. Some counsellors may be registered with Medicare for rebates, however you would need to ask them if they are registered with Medicare. Your private health insurance may cover counselling as well, however it is your responsibility to claim back your expenses. Counsellor fees can vary immensely and they are not always a good indicator of the quality of service you may receive. Ask what specialist training they have undertaken, how long they’ve been practicing and the average number of sessions they feel you may need can help you in your decision making.

After you have a first session with your counsellor it is important to carefully consider how you felt about the experience. Were you comfortable in the counselling room? Could you talk freely and openly about your thoughts, feeling and emotions? Did you feel the counsellor was paying attention to you, understood you and was respectful? Did you and the counsellor discuss a plan for how you will work through your issues and worries and discuss session planning? If you feel, after answering these questions, that the counsellor is not the right one for you, you are under no obligation to see them again. Let them know immediately in writing that you are not wanting to continue counselling so that you don’t find yourself in the position of potentially paying cancellation fees for sessions. Ultimately, the right counsellor for you will guide and support you in addressing your concerns, provide a suite of tools you can use to manage ongoing issues and allow you a non-judgemental, safe space to unpack your worries, fears, dreams and hopes.

If you would like to find out more about the services that Bottle Tree Counselling offers, please register for a free 15 minute Enquiry call by entering your email address below and clicking on the button.

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