Are you trying to find a counsellor in Vancouver? Feeling overwhelmed? You are not alone. If you have gone to search for a counsellor on PyschologyToday or CounsellingBC you might end up scrolling through hundreds of profiles and wondering, “how the heck am I supposed to chose just one?” I can’t choose for you, but what I can do is provide a few tips and tricks that might help you in your search.
1. Look for the letters after someone’s name
For those of us who do not have a counselling background, the letters that come after someone’s name might not mean much. However, those designations can help to keep us safe and know that the therapist has received adequate training.
Registered Clinical Counsellor (RCC) is the designation given by the BC Association of Clinical Counsellors whereas Canadian Certified Counsellor (CCC) is the designation given by the Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association. Both of these designating bodies have a formal code of ethics, require professional preparation at the Masters level and continuing education for their members.
Registered Social Worker (RSW) is the designation of members approved by the BC College of Social Workers. The BCCSW is a regulatory college, much like the BC College of Physicians and Surgeons and BC College of Nurses and Midwives, which has legal authority to manage its membership and hold its members accountable to their code of ethics.
Why is this important? Psychotherapy and counselling aren’t regulated professions. Anyone can call themselves a counsellor or therapist in B.C. and if they lose their designation due to a complaint, there is nothing to stop them from continuing to practice. As prospective clients we need to take care of ourselves and getting curious about someone’s designation can be one way we can do this. In the past few years there has been increasing attention paid to the importance of regulation and counsellor credentials:.
2. The right financial fit
Another element that can help you in your search is thinking about your budget for counselling. Are you looking for free or low-cost counselling? Do you have benefits through an insurance provider? If so, who is covered under those benefits—RCC, CCC, MSW (Masters of Social Worker)?
3. Are you looking for something specific?
There are many different types of therapy and determining which one is right for you can also be overwhelming. However, if you find that one approach appeals to you or you are looking for a therapist who practices something specific, such as EMDR or AEDP, you might find it helpful to check out the official websites for those modalities and search through their directory of practitioners who have completed training in that specialty.
For example, the EMDR International Association (EMDRIA) has an EMDR therapist directory that you can search by city, and likewise, the AEDP Institute has a psychotherapist directory. You could also look on a person’s profile to see if they have listed the training that they have completed and note that just because someone lists “CBT” as a specialty, doesn’t necessarily mean they have extensive training in CBT. If it is important for you to see someone who does have extensive training in a particular modality, try going to the source of that training and use their directory as a tool.
If you are someone who likes to make decisions with the help of your friends, you might also find it helpful to ask around for a referral. In 2022 many people are becoming comfortable talking about their mental health and if you are comfortable asking, it could be worthwhile to ask some trusted friends or acquaintances if they know of any therapists. If you do find a referral, make sure to dig into the person a bit yourself. Just because someone was a perfect fit for your friend, doesn’t necessarily mean that they’ll be a fit for you.
5. Shop around
I know it’s a bit weird to talk about shopping for a therapist but seeing a therapist is a huge investment of our time and for some, of money. It is also entering into a relationship where we are sharing some of our most intimate and private thoughts and problems. It’s vulnerable and we want to ensure that we feel comfortable with the person sitting across from us in the therapy room.
Most therapists offer free consultations. Take advantage of these and don’t be afraid to book a few consultations and have a few conversations with different practitioners. Ask questions. Listen to what your intuition tells you about the person. Sleep on it. Never feel pressured to book with someone if it doesn’t feel right for you. If someone doesn’t offer a free consultation, know that this is not the norm.
If you’re still not sure where to go, feel free to reach out to us at Fieldwork Clinic and our Client Care Coordinator would be happy to answer any questions you might have and help connect you with a counsellor at Fieldwork that is the best fit for you.