I am often asked to advise on how to find a counsellor.
If you have never had counselling before, the process can be rather confusing, so I thought I would share a few tips here.
Your first port of call is of course your GP. Some GPs are more helpful than others, but you will probably be referred to a local counselling provider. If you are lucky, you will be able to see a counsellor in a few weeks time, but often the waiting list is a lot longer. Even if you do see a counsellor soon enough, you might not get more than 3 or 4 sessions.
So what to do if you feel you need more than that?
You can ask your employer if they offer counseling services as a part of their Employee Assistance program.
If that is not available you can go private.
It does not necessarily have to be expensive – many counselling training institutions have their own counselling services, where advanced trainees can gain necessary work experience, and offer reduced fees. Some local charities might offer free or cheap counselling services, so it is worth asking your GP about it.
If you do decide to look for a private counsellor, www.counselling-directory.org.uk is a great resource. It allows you to search by postcode and all the counsellors listed have to provide a proof of their qualifications.
If you want to be absolutely sure that your counsellor is trained and qualified, you can check at www.bacp.co.uk
It is a website for British Association for Counselling & Psychotherapy and it has a directory of counsellors. If a counsellor is registered as an Accredited Counsellor, that means that he or she has trained at the BACP accredited training institution and has had several years work experience post qualifying.