When I first moved to Kamloops I was not aware that finding a family doctor was going to be a struggle. Since then I’ve heard from many clients that finding a therapist, counsellor or psychologist is also a difficult process. I hope this information helps you find someone to work with.
If you haven’t already chosen a few potential therapists, here are some articles that might help:
Help Me Chose a Therapist.
So, now you’ve found a few potential therapists to work with and they are willing to have a brief conversation with you to see if you are a good fit. You now are left with the question: What should I ask?
What should you say? What shouldn’t you say?
How much is too much info? What is appropriate?
Questions for You to Choose From:
I recommend having a few chosen questions. Don’t drill the poor person! Decide which of these are important to you and focus on 2 – 4 of those. If they don’t matter to you, skip them.
How long have you been practicing?
This may or may not be a helpful question. Research is surprising in this area as it shows a new therapist is often as effective as a seasoned one! This question may be helpful to find out if this therapist has done this their whole life or if they have chosen counselling as a second career and are particularly passionate about how they help people. Years of practice can also be misleading when the person may have spent their life helping others in various roles (i.e. social work or non-profits) but only recently chose to move into private practice.
What licenses and certifications do you have and which professional organizations do you belong to?
This question is important because many of our provinces do not regulate counsellors. This is often news to people. Anyone (yes, literally anyone) can say they are a counsellor without having any training or being governed by ethical guidelines of a professional organization. You want to know this person you are giving your time and money to has been trained and has an organization behind them making sure they follow ethical practices.
If the answer comes back with a myriad of letters or certifications that you don’t understand, you should ask for clarity. Often people that are always learning forget that you may not have a clue about initials that they deal with everyday. This is also a chance to see if this counsellor can translate something you might not understand into basic language for you.
This question is also helpful if you are concerned about specific spiritual, cultural or gender issues. Don’t be shy about asking.
How much do you charge? What form of payment do you take?
It is super awkward to talk about money. It’s often awkward on both sides, but it is important. You don’t need the added stress of not knowing what you will be paying or how often. If you are not covered by insurance, there is often an option called a “sliding scale” that means the therapist may offer a reduced rate.
Have you had clients who were in a similar circumstance to my own?
Of course, you will have to share some of your situation. It is a good idea to have it written out in a sentence or two, what concisely you are looking for. Example: “I’ve been through a difficult relational breakup and I’m terrified of starting a new relationship for fear of going through the same thing.” “I’ve been having health issues and not sleeping well and my doctor suggested I should talk to someone about my stress.” “I have something that happened to me as a teen and I’ve never told anyone about it but wonder if it is affecting my current relationship.” Ending your statement with: “Is this something you’ve successfully worked with before?”
To be fair, your situation may be unique and they might not have dealt with it. But, in briefly sharing your situation, the therapist’s response should let you know if you are comfortable with how they will deal with the issue. Are they kind, empathetic and able to listen?
Describe your ideal client?
Different people fit with different therapists and the same is true the other direction. It’s good to know if your therapist loves working with teens, or because of their own history really connect with people going through certain difficulties. You may be their ideal client!
What do you see as being your strengths as a counsellor?
This is important to get a sense if you are a good match. Some counsellors say very little in session and are perfect for people that have a lot to say that no one has taken the time to listen to. Others are very directive and will give advice – which can be helpful or completely off-putting. Some balance those 2 things. The way they answer this question may give you insight into what working with them will be like.
Have you been in therapy yourself?
Unless you are looking for a therapist that knows it all and doesn’t need any help from anyone, this is an excellent question. Do they believe in the value of their craft enough that they use it themselves. I believe people that help people need their own people to help them process the stress of that.
Do you have a supervisor or do peer consultation?
Again, the answer to this question will let you know whether the person has a network of people that help support them or whether they are a lone wolf.
How often do you recommend clients come for therapy?
Research shows that starting into therapy, people progress fastest by having a few scheduled sessions about a week apart. Some therapists schedules do not allow for this. It is a good idea to know after the first session, how long will you have to wait for a second?
How many sessions or how long do people typically stay in therapy with you?
Again, this will not be important for everyone but you might want to have an idea. If you only wanted to have a check in every few months, is that something this therapist does.
What is a typical session like? How long are they?
Some therapists are relaxed and you get a full hour. Others will have you in and out in 40-45 minutes. Who sets the topic for the session? Are you expected to bring what you want to talk about? Or does the therapist expect to guide you where they think you need to go. Neither way is better but it’s good to know what to expect.
Do you assign homework?
This question is mostly important for those that feel strongly one way or the other. Some therapists always give you things to work on, some occasionally do and others don’t give between session assignments assuming you will process things as you need to. There is no right way, but it’s good to know what their usual method is.
How do I prepare for my first session?
Are there forms to fill out? What information will they be wanting? Some people prepare to give a recap of their life only to find out the session is taken up with finding out about more general mental health information of them and their extended family. Having clear direction often helps make the first session less stressful.
I hope this helps you find the right therapist in Kamloops. If you are still feeling stuck, feel free to call me at (833)630-2010 for a free 15 minute phone consultation. I’d be happy to hear about what is happening and help direct you to the right person. If you are an adult looking for help, feel free to look around my website.
Trish White is a counsellor in Kamloops, BC that wishes she’d had this list of questions before she went to a few counsellors that didn’t suit her style when she was looking for herself.
If you think her style of counselling might be what you are looking for, feel free to phone or text 833-630-2010 or email firstname.lastname@example.org