What Are Consultations?
There are many counselling and private mental health professionals who offer a free initial counselling consultation, ranging from 15 minutes to a standard full session length (typically 50 minutes) depending upon need. These consultations are offered by telephone in our particular organization and in others they may be offered in person.
Why a utilize a Consultation?
It’s important that the therapist that you choose be the right fit for you. Remember though they have some days where they may be not as on their game either so give them a few times to get a sense if this is the right one for you. So when you decide to go to counselling you’re retaining the services of a therapist and most people won’t hire someone unless they have spoken with them first. Frequently this step is skipped if a friend or family member has worked with the therapist previously and had a good experience with them.
Purpose of Counselling Consultation
Individuals may decide to have a counselling consulation for the following reasons:
- Having a face-to-face meeting with the counsellor may help you decide, if you will be comfortable with them
- This is an opportunity to ask the therapist different questions to see if their responses are what the client is looking for in a therapy
- Having the opportunity to view the counsellor’s office will help you decide whether this is a comfortable place for you to meet to share your inner most thoughts and feelings
Questions for a counsellor can vary depending upon the needs of each individual and their expectations. Some potential questions from client’s may be:
- How long have have you been a counsellor?
- Where have you worked previously?
- What are your qualifications? Are you affiliated with a professional college or association?
- What made you choose counselling as a career?
- What is your experience with __________?
- What counselling methods or therapies do you use for ___________?
- How will we know that I’m making progress?
- What are your views on _________?
- What are your fees? How does billing work?
- What is your cancellation policy?
- What do you do to take care of yourself so you can do the work you do?
- Do you have experience with meditation (if this is important to you)?
- What kinds of professional development opportunities are you involved in?
- How often should I come in? How long should I come for counselling?
- What types of sessions do you offer?
- Do you work solely with individuals or do you do couples and family counselling too?
- What is your availability in-between sessions?
- What is confidentiality and how does it work?
- Come prepared with questions. I can’t speak for other therapists but I am not a salesperson and will never attempt to convince you to hire me. In other words, the time is for you to talk and ask questions – not for me to engage in a sales pitch!
- Understand the scope. Unless you are being offered a free first session, a consultation is not the same thing as a counselling appointment. ie. A 20-minute consultation is not enough time to address your concerns in a meaningful way and will most likely leave you feeling underwhelmed and unhappy. Also, if you’ve thought of questions in advance, you will likely target the areas you want to, particularly if the consultation time is limited.
- Check in with yourself: A I feeling comfortable with and welcomed by the therapist? Do I feel emotionally safe in the office space? Am I feeling heard? Are my questions being addressed to my satisfaction? If not have I asked for what I need? I am responsible for my part in therapy and ensuring I complete any homework in a timely manner.
- Be on time. If you are late it will limit the time you can speak to your counsellor about important concerns. Often leaving you feel rushed.
- A telephone consultation doesn’t mean your obligated to have an appointment arranged. You will not be committed to attending an appointment for just asking for more information.
- Trust your inner intuition. It’s always your choice whether you choose to work with a particular therapist or not, even if you don’t know why you don’t want too, you don’t have too.
- Investment in yourself and your future. Counselling is an investment of time, money and the effort it takes to open up emotionally. Ensure you invest wisely in an counsellor you can trust and feel confident with that can assist you in meeting your counselling goals.