If this is your first time accessing counselling, the process might seem complicated. We’ll walk you through five steps to getting started, to help you get the most out of the process
Deciding to seek counselling is a significant step towards improving your well-being. However, once you have made the decision, you may find yourself wondering just what you specifically want to accomplish.
It can be helpful to reflect on what brings you to seek counselling. Consider writing down the specific problems, feelings, and situations that you are currently experiencing, as well as the goals you have. Are you feeling angry with your partner, and wanting to communicate those feelings? Are you feeling confused about your life, and wanting to find deeper purpose? Identifying the problem, and what you think could help the problem, can help both you and your counsellor ensure that your work is both focused and effective.
Be open and honest with yourself about what you hope to achieve through counselling. Remember that counselling is a collaborative process. Your counsellor will be there to provide guidance, support, and an accepting space for you to explore your experiences. By clarifying your intentions and goals for counselling, you can better ensure that you arrive at the goals you’re hoping to achieve.
Before you begin looking for a counsellor, it’s important to know what you can manage financially. Depending on what you’re experiencing, how long you’ve experienced it, and what your goals are, counselling can be brief, or can be a longer term process.
If you have insurance benefits, check whether your insurance covers mental health services. If it does, confirm how much is covered, and the counselling designations it covers. If your plan covers Registered Social Workers or Registered Clinical Counsellors, one or more of our counsellors will be covered by your plan. (Keep in mind there are many different types of counsellors in BC, so be sure to double-check your plan!)
If you don’t have insurance benefits, our Masters-trained Associate Counsellors provide a lower-cost option that is more affordable for many people. Our Associates have the skills and training to address many concerns, and provide the same careful attention to you, your feelings, and your experiences as our Registered Counsellors.
We know from research that the fit between you and your counsellor is the most important factor in determining whether you reach your counselling goals. Consider the people whom you feel most comfortable with. What values do you share? How do they treat you? What are your conversations like? The answers to these questions likely reveal what’s most important to you in a counsellor.
When you’ve got a clear idea of what you want in a counsellor, read through their bios. They should provide a clear indication of how they approach counselling, as well as their values, and what it’s like to do counselling with them. Check to see that they have experience working with the specific concerns that you’re looking to address. At Fieldwork, we ensure that all this information is clear and honest in our counsellors’ profiles.
Remember, choosing a counsellor is a personal decision, and it may take time to find the right fit. Don’t hesitate to book a few introductory conversations (discussed next) with a few counsellors before making a final decision. Prioritizing these considerations can increase the likelihood of finding a counsellor who you can truly connect with.
Booking a first conversation is a key first step in finding the right counsellor for you. Consults are usually about 15 minutes in length, and are offered by all of our counsellors.
During your conversation, you’re invited to have an open discussion about your concerns, goals, and expectations for counselling. This meeting is an opportunity for you to share a little about yourself, and for the counsellor to learn more about your background, current situation, and the challenges you’re facing. They will also explain their therapeutic approach and how they can assist you, including sharing information about different techniques or interventions they use. You can feel free to ask questions and seek clarification on anything you may be curious about.
By the end of the conversation, you should have a good sense of whether the counsellor is right for you. If you want to proceed (and you don’t need to make a decision right then) you will discuss the next steps in booking a first session. If you feel that the counsellor is not the right fit, don’t be afraid to say so!
In your first counseling session, it is important to establish a strong foundation for the therapeutic relationship. Your counsellor will typically begin by explaining the counselling process, and addressing any concerns or questions you might have.
During this early stage, your counsellor’s focus will be on getting to know you, so they’ll be asking you questions about your background, your situation today, and your inner experiences. If your primary concern is of a clinical nature, your counsellor may also ask questions to better understand your emotional, mental, and physical well-being. Overall, the first counseling session sets the stage for future sessions and allows you and your counsellor to begin working collaboratively towards your goals.
This first session is just the beginning of a journey towards healing and growth. It is normal to have mixed feelings, and it may take time for you to feel comfortable disclosing more sensitive experiences. Try to be open during the session, and communicate your expectations and goals for the counselling process. Together, you and your counsellor can work towards improving your mental well-being and overall quality of life.
The connection you share with your counsellor is the single most important factor for getting the outcomes you’re looking for. All of our counsellors offer the opportunity to share a free conversation first, for you to get a sense of whether they’re the right fit for you.
Our counsellors hold sessions online and in-person out of Vancouver offices, and each holds advanced graduate-level training and experience in the field.