Belonging to a family or being part of a couple is not always a harmonious and loving experience.
Seeking the help of a counsellor can make all the difference. If you decide to seek help how do you go about finding the right person? What sort of therapy would suit your needs?
First it’s important to know the difference between various kinds of therapy professionals. There are three main categories:
Counsellors have varied qualifications and professional training, from a few short courses to several years of study. Each counsellor works in a unique way. Counsellors should preferably belong to a counselling organisation, such as the Australian Association of Relationship Counsellors, Relationship counselling /therapy is a specialised field of counselling. Psychologists have a degree in psychology but it’s important to find out if they have specific training in relationship counselling. Psychologists work in a range of ways, depending on their chosen method or theoretical background.
Psychiatrists have a medical degree and are trained to diagnose mental illness. A psychiatrist may prescribe medication, unlike counsellors and psychologists, who would refer the client to a medical practitioner.
As with any profession, there are good therapists and not so good ones. There are two crucial factors to consider when deciding on a therapist: you need to feel comfortable speaking openly with that person, and you need to have the sense, even from the first session, that the therapist can help you to address your difficulties. Does the therapist “get” you? These two issues are more important than the qualifications of the therapist, because you need to feel comfortable in order to be open and honest about yourself. This might mean that you have to try a number of therapists before settling for the one you prefer. When seeking counselling, as a couple both partners need to feel they are choosing someone they can work with.
Inquire about fees in advance, but it is important to note that good therapists do not necessarily charge the highest fees. Find out whether a rebate is possible through a private health fund.
Personal recommendation is often the best way to find a good therapist. You may know of a friend who is having counselling and feels positive about the process. Sadly men are less likely to admit to anyone that they are having counselling and therefore only recommend a therapist rarely.
Consult your medical practitioner, who will have a number of people to refer you to. Be aware that your doctor probably hasn’t consulted the therapists personally, but might have received positive feedback from other patients.
Most importantly, don’t give up. Relationship Counselling can be life changing.
For more on Choosing a Relationship Counsellor click here