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How to Choose a Counsellor


Deciding on which counsellor to see is just as important as the initial decision to see a counsellor at all. Successful outcomes in therapy are related
to a number of key factors. Here are some important things to keep in mind when choosing a counsellor:

Choose a counsellor who has knowledge and skill in keeping with your needs.
Some questions to ask might be:

  • What areas do you specialize in? (family, marriage, addiction, depression/anxiety abuse, etc)
  • What approach do you take with someone who is struggling with __________________?
  • How many years of experience do you have?

This is a big one. Clients do their best when they feel connected in a trusting and healthy --relationship with their therapist. Trust your intuition.
If you have a chance to talk with them on the phone before scheduling your first session,pay attention to whether or not you “sense” this would be a “good fit”. During the first few sessions it’s important to discern your comfortability with the counsellor.

Credibility / Character:
It’s essential to know that your counsellor didn’t just get a have-fast certificate, hang up a shingle and call himself a therapist. You might want to know:

  • What training has he/she completed? (degrees, certificates and ongoing education)
  • Are they a registered member of a professional accrediting association?
  • Do they have professional liability insurance?
  • Do other professionals such as doctors and pastors make referrals to them?

This goes both ways. As the client, you will get help to the degree that you are open and forthright regarding the issues in your life. You gain nothing by withholding. It takes time to present all your concerns and to disclose all the issues, but you will give yourself a gift by being open right from the beginning. Also, you need to sense that your counsellor is not withholding from you, but is giving you honest and sincere feedback and information pertaining to your needs.

Other questions you might want to ask are :

  • What appointment times are they available for?
  • Will you feel more comfortable with a male or female counsellor?
  • Is their location suitable to you?
  • What is the average number of visits that their clients have?
  • Is their fee in keeping with your ability to pay?


Weighing out your investment in counselling against other expenses can help make sense of it. For example, the cost of restoring a relationship may be less than the price of a new television or set of golf clubs..


A word of hope: It’s normal to feel anxious about choosing a counsellor, and to discover that not every counsellor out there will suit your need. You might need to check around. Sometimes it takes a visit with 2 or 3 counsellors before finding the best fit for your needs. But don’t give up. Many clients have told me they are so glad they decided to make one more phone call.


Gerry Goertzen © 2010 How to Choose a Counsellor



Hours: Day time and evening appointments available.
Fees: Speak to one of the counsellors to discuss your options.

The Harbour ...a recovery group
for life's struggles

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9 - 1110
Henderson Hwy.
Wpg, MB  R2G 1L1
Ph: 204-334-4801

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Phone: 204-334-4801 Fax: 204-338-9180 Email: contact@riverbendcounselling.ca
9 - 1110 Henderson Hwy Winnipeg, MB.  R2G 1L1
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