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 will 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 counseling 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?
The only way to go then is to go private.
It does not necessarily have to be expensive – many counseling training institutions have their own counseling services, where advanced trainees can gain necessary work experience, and offer reduced fees. Some charities local to you might offer free or cheap counseling 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 has had an appropriate training and is qualified, you can look 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.