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Choosing a Mental Health Counsellor

Everyone faces situations in life that are difficult and overwhelming. One way to cope is to consult with a professional counsellor. Counsellors can help you make a career change, deal with the death of a loved one, overcome panic attacks, manage stress, get over anger, cope with divorce, chronic pain, bullying, school anxiety - in short, counsellors are trained to help you face a wide range of difficulties.
Counsellors work with people across the life span - from childhood, through adolescence, and adulthood. Counsellors offer their services in a variety of modes: individual counselling, couple, family, and groups.
, Finding the right counsellor is often a confusing process. You can use the following guidelines to identify a qualified, helpful counsellor.

1. A good counsellor is a qualified profession with a university education (often a master's degree or higher) from a recognized university. You can ask to see their university degree, where they did their internship and how long they've been in practice.
2. A good counsellor is part of an association to which they are accountable, has a code of ethics, and which grants certification based on high standards of training and education. The Canadian Counselling Association (CCA) certifies qualified counselors. To find a Canadian Certified Counsellor in Canada, contact The Canadian Counselling Association at 1-877-765-5565 or by visiting their website at 
A good counsellor has expertise and the necessary training or area of specialization to help with you specific problems.

3. A good counsellor listens more than they speak and keeps the focus on you. A good counsellor is respectful and willing to challenge you when necessary. 
A good counsellor is someone you are comfortable with, who is nonjudgmental, someone you can trust with the personal details of your life. A good counsellor encourages and answers your questions.

3. A good counsellor discusses the issue of confidentiality with you, explains when confidentiality might be broken and with whom and under what circumstances the counsellor can discuss your case.A good counsellor helps you set clearly defined goals and a plan of action. A good counsellor gives you an estimate of how long counselling might last and how counselling will end.
4. A good counsellor describes appontment policy with you including the session fees, method of payment, the policy regarding missed appointments, the length of each session and how to reach them in case of an emergency.
5. A good counsellor welcomes your feedback and asks how you feel the counselling process is going and if you have any concerns or questions.
Lucy MacDonald, M.Ed. is a Canadian Certified Counsellor. She is the author of Learn to be an Optimist and Learn to Manage Your Time. Lucy provides phone counselling services and tele-classes on anger management and stress management. Her website is


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