Nine tips to find the right counsellor for you

Nine-tips-to-find-the-right-counsellor-for-you

You have decided it is time to see a counsellor—but how do you go about finding the ‘right’ one for you? Beginning the process may seem overwhelming, but by following these nine tips, you’ll be able to locate a professional you ‘click’ with.

  1. Counsellor or psychologist—What’s the difference?

Deciding whether you need a counsellor or psychologist comes down to what approach you want to take in therapy.

Essentially the underlying difference between a counsellor and a psychologist is in the training that each undertakes. A psychologist is trained in the medical model treatment approach; that is to assess, diagnose and implement treatment interventions using Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). The emphasis is more likely to be upon diagnosis and relief of symptoms.

A counsellor is trained in the therapeutic model, where emphasis is placed upon the counselling relationship and the core principles of empathy, unconditional positive regard and genuineness. In this model, the person is at the centre of the therapy.

  1. Ask your friends

Word of mouth is always a sure way to find the right counselling professional for you. Your friend’s recommendation will be based upon their personal experience and effectiveness of the counselling professional they worked with.

  1. Research the counsellor’s professional affiliations

The counselling profession has strong professional code of ethics and standards that practitioners are expected to adhere to. Every counsellor should, at the very least, be affiliated with an Accredited Professional Association (APA).

In addition to this, in Australia there are two ‘umbrella’ associations for counselling professionals; the Psychotherapy and Counselling Federation Association (PACFA) and Australia Counselling Association (ACA).

Alternatively, your counsellor may be affiliated with the Australian Association of Social Workers (AASW) or the Australian Clinical Psychologist Association (ACPA). You will find this information on their web site and/or by asking the counsellor or the organisation they work for.

  1. Research the counsellor’s qualifications and experience

What is the issue you want to address? Counselling professionals are trained in the art of listening and facilitating dialogue that allows you to explore your personal experience and discover the necessary resources to encourage, motivate and empower you. In addition, counsellors will invariably develop an area/s of expertise as they continue to practice and pursue professional growth.

If you want to talk about the anxiety you experience, check that your counsellor has knowledge and experience in the area of mental health. If you are struggling with alcohol dependence or binge drinking, then ensure your counsellor has some education and experience in the area of substance issues. Do you need couple or marriage counselling? This is another area of expertise that you will want to ensure your professional is experienced in.

  1. Check out a counsellor’s website

A counsellor’s website is a great place to get a ‘feel’ for the person behind the content. Their personal and professional background, interests and the things they write about will all inform you about them.

  1. Talk to the counsellor over the phone

A personal conversation establishes so much more than the information you hear. In every conversation, be it on the phone, email or face-to-face, we are continually interpreting data by the nuances in the other’s speech; the pauses, a cough, the tone of voice, the pace of speech. All this information informs us about the person, and we respond in a positive or negative way accordingly.

Take the time to write down the specific questions you want to ask so that you ensure the counsellor is a ‘right fit’ for you and note how this interaction makes you feel.

  1. Gender

This is a personal choice depending on what you are comfortable with.

  1. Location and professional rooms

Location is an important factor not to be overlooked. You will want your counsellor to be readily accessible and feel comfortable in the space in which they work.

  1. Cost

There is a very broad spectrum in regards to the cost of a session, based upon a counsellor’s years of experience, expertise, whether they work privately or represent an organisation for which they are employed, whether they are registered as a Medicare provider or can provide some alternative rebate. These are questions to consider, recognising that the more specialised the field of practice, often impacts the cost of the service.

If you are looking for the counsellor that is ‘right’ for you, why not call us today? Here’s what you need to do: contact Colleen on 0434 337 245 or Duncan on 0434 331 243 for a FREE 10-minute phone consultation on how we can best help you, or press book now to book in our online diary. 

Six ways to manage social anxiety

Six-ways-to-manage-social-anxiety

It’s the thumping heart, the sweaty palms, and the seeming inability to communicate verbally to the person across from you.

It’s the fear that everyone is silently judging you, and if you make eye contact with them something disastrous could happen.

And it’s the isolation you feel it an overwhelmingly crowded place, when the smallest task takes all your energy to complete.

Social anxiety is a beast. Some of us experience it momentarily, like on the first day of a new job, when we enter a uber-competitive environment or see colleagues in an unexpected place. Other people experience it all the time, and a ‘simple’ activity like shopping or going out to dinner nearly feel unbearable.

As someone who still deals with social anxiety, I know what it’s like to freak out over the simplest tasks. And even though I’ve combatted a lot of my (somewhat irrational) fears over the years, I still panic when I encounter a new situation, I’ve just learned to mask it a lot better.

If you also struggle with social anxiety, here are six ways you can begin to manage it.

  1. Realise it’s normal

Feeling anxious about a situation you think ‘normal people’ are fine with only makes your fear escalate. While not everyone experiences social anxiety, we all feel some sort of awkwardness. Remember that you’re not the only one who feels uncomfortable around people. In fact, there are probably others around you at this moment experiencing a similar level of anxiety, you just can’t tell because most of us laugh it off or hide it.

  1. Pre-plan

I’m a terrible decision maker at the best of times, and when I’m in an uncomfortable situation my inability to choose between chai tea and a mocha latte becomes impossible. So when possible, plan where you’re going and what you’ll do there.

If you’re going to an event, make a time to meet up with a friend so you’re not left on your own. If being in a crowded space troubles you, go at a less-busy time, and if talking to a cashier freaks you out, have your money set aside for them before you approach the counter. These are only small steps, but they can help you to avoid an anxiety attack.

  1. Let a friend know

If you struggle in a particular situation, don’t be ashamed to let someone know. A loved one, partner, spouse or friend will likely have already picked up that you’re uncomfortable in some situations, and telling them you have social anxiety will help them to connect the dots.

You can’t always avoid anxiety, but having someone around who understands what you’re experiencing makes a world of difference. Tell them what you need to feel calm, and let them help you to plan for and work through each situation.

  1. Write down your fears

When you’re anxious about something, you might role-play different scenarios in your head until you’re so afraid you decide not to complete the task. It’s important that you consider the event or situation you are entering, but catastrophising about what may occur if you see x or what could happen if you say x, only heightens your emotions.

Before you enter an anxiety-provoking scenario, write down your fears, hopes and expectations around the event. For each fear or problem, write down a possible solution. You may find that just by writing it down, you take away its power and feel more empowered.

Go back over the list when the event is complete, and see what actually occurred. Over time, you’ll begin to control your fear when you realise more often than not, scenarios aren’t as bad as they seem.

  1. Set a time frame

My anxiety is always worse when I am tired and stressed, and I know it’s time to go home when I become unresponsive or irritable. Over time, you’ll learn the physical and mental symptoms you show when you’ve had enough and this will be a sign that you need to have some alone time.

How intense the environment is, the level of social interaction you’ve had and how long you’re out will affect this, so set a time frame for each situation and give yourself permission to leave when its done so you can care for yourself.

  1. See a professional

If your social anxiety is all consuming and you struggle to leave the house, make a phone call or see people, then seeing a counsellor or psychologist is a great first step to managing it.

Lots of places allow you to research therapists online, and some even let you book over the Internet. Ask a friend to drive you to the appointment, and if this feels like too much, ask the therapist if you can connect over Skype or email instead.

It takes time to overcome social anxiety, and for some people (myself included), it becomes a process of learning to manage it. Wherever you’re at, know you’re not alone in these emotions. You can navigate them and with a bit of support, learn to live a happy and healthy life. It just starts with asking for help.

Do you struggle with social anxiety? Would you like some help overcoming your fears? Here’s what you need to do: Contact Colleen on 0434 337 245 or Duncan on 0434 331 243 for a FREE 10-minute phone consultation on how we can best help you or book online now.