Making the decision that you are going to start counselling can feel pretty huge. You’re ready to try something that could help you feel better and enjoy life more – and there are only a few more steps to go:
You might have a personal recommendation of a counsellor, or you might have heard a name of a counsellor – or you might have no idea where to start.Mind UK (https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/drugs-and-treatments/talking-therapy-and-counselling/how-to-find-a-therapist/) is a good place to start.
Counselling Directory is a place for counsellors from lots of different membership bodies.
BACP is the biggest membership body of counsellors.
ACTO is a directory of online counsellors.
If you can, take a bit of time to think about what exactly you are looking for: is your counsellor’s gender important? or their specialisms? or their counselling approach? Do you want to know if your counsellor is an ally? Next, more practical concerns: do you want to work face-to-face or online? What time and day is going to suit you best? How much do you want to spend? Are you thinking of working long term or short term (or not sure)? Do you want to meet first for a quick chat on the phone, or a short face-to-face meeting or video call, or would you rather book a full session, and decide after that?
Once you have this kind of thing clear in your mind, write a short enquiry email. Say that you’re looking to start counselling, ideally with someone who (and describe what you are looking for). Explain how and when you would like to work. Ask what the counsellor’s arrangements are for initial meetings or sessions. You can explain that you will be contacting a few different counsellors so that you can find the best match for you. You might like to say a few words about the main issues you are hoping to work on, but you don’t have to go into any detail, and you don’t have to do this now.
So you’re ready with your email, and you’re on a website listing counsellors. As you scroll through the pictures and welcome messages, you might get a sense of who you might like to consider working with. Anyone who catches your eye, send them your email!
Over the next few days, keep an eye on your email and do check your spam/junk folders. When you find someone who’s available to work with you, set up your first meeting – whether it’s a short chat, or a full session. You might prepare a list of questions you want to make sure to ask. These might be questions about something practical – payment methods, confidentiality or cancellation arrangements. Or you might want to know something about them and how they work. Feel free to ask anything you’d like.
If you can see a few different counsellors, you’ll get the chance to see what sort of person appeals to you the most, and who feels like you could work well with. The practicalities can be ironed out, and you’ll be ready to go!
And then, of course, the real work starts!