How to choose a counsellor in Vancouver that is right for you

How to Choose a Counsellor in Vancouver by Dr. Michal Regev

23 Feb How to choose a counsellor in Vancouver that is right for you

My friend Millie once asked me if anyone living in Vancouver ever needed counselling. “After all,” she said, “we live in one of the most beautiful and livable cities in the world. Why would anyone ever struggle in Vancouver?” She wondered half-jokingly.

“Vancouver IS beautiful,” I answered, “but some people struggle nonetheless, just like I was struggling when I first moved to Vancouver 30 years ago,” I told Millie.

When I moved with my family to Vancouver to pursue graduate studies in Psychology I had many challenges, which affected my mood.

I remember looking at the beautiful scenery around me and feeling completely overwhelmed with the demands of our move. I thought to myself back then that the beauty of Vancouver was in stark contrast to the way I was feeling inside.

But whether you are a newcomer or were born and raised in Vancouver, if you are struggling with difficult feelings or circumstances, know that there is nothing to be ashamed of and that you are not alone.

Between 15-20% of adults in Canada struggle with mental health challenges at any given time.

The good news is that professional mental health help is readily available in Vancouver and all over B.C. Moreover, it can be highly beneficial to you, as surveys show.

So, if you live anywhere in B.C. and are currently struggling, you may want to consider getting counselling services in Vancouver. Online services make it possible to live away from the city but still receive the best services.

But how do you choose the right counsellor for you? you may wonder.

Here are the 7 most important points to consider when choosing your counsellor:

  1. Not every counsellor is a psychologist, but every psychologist is a counsellor. You may not be aware of this, but the title “counsellor” and the word “counselling” are not regulated or protected by law in B.C. This means that anyone can represent themselves as a counsellor and offer counselling services. Contrary to that, the words “psychology,” “psychologist” and “psychological” ARE regulated and protected by law. It means that only people who are registered with the College of Psychologists in B.C. are qualified to provide psychological services. Psychologists in B.C. have extensive knowledge, training and expertise and must follow strict ethical guidelines. When choosing your counsellor make sure you choose a registered psychologist. To verify a psychologist’s credibility, you may log on to the College of Psychologists of BC’s website.
  2. Your counsellor’s experience is important. In fact, studies that have looked at the various aspects of a successful therapy or counselling process found that the more experienced the therapist was, the better the therapy outcome was. The therapist’s experience was even more important than the type of therapy used, which was surprising to the researchers themselves. In the area of counselling and psychotherapy, experience is gold.
  3. Client reviews are important, although many clients avoid writing reviews because of privacy concerns. Still, you want to make sure that at least a few clients provided positive reviews of the counsellor you are considering. If you have a personal reference from someone you trust, that can be very helpful.
  4. Virtual counselling is a great option. The comfort of online counselling has been known since the early days of Covid-19. But is online counselling effective? It turns out that it is! Dozens of studies have proven that it is as effective as in-person counselling. Online counselling services have also opened the (virtual) door to out-of-towners and people living in remote areas, as well as people with disabilities and those who juggle work and family life. In B.C. for example, access to counselling services has significantly increased thanks to online counselling as most qualified counsellors live and work in and around Vancouver. If you would like to avoid traffic, parking fees and a very long waitlist, make sure your counsellor offers online services. But if you prefer in-person sessions you should be able to find a counsellor who offers that. You may have to wait longer, though.
  5. A match between your needs and your counsellor’s expertise is important. It is important to find a counsellor whose areas of practice match your needs. All registered psychologists are trained to treat depression and anxiety, for example. But if you have experienced trauma or issues related to pregnancy, postpartum or fertility, you will want to choose someone with a lot of experience in those areas.
  6. Availability is an important factor in deciding who to see. If you are struggling, you may not wish to wait 6-8 months to see a therapist. If you can be flexible with appointment times and are open to virtual sessions, then chances are you are going to be able to see someone within a reasonable timeframe.
  7. The fit between you as the client and your counsellor is very important. While the client-therapist fit is last on this list, it is definitely not the least important. But how do you know if the fit between you and your therapist is likely to be good? A good fit means that you feel at ease in the company of your therapist, you feel they are genuinely interested in you and that they are non-judgmental and empathetic. Also, you have a sense that you can trust your therapist. You can often get a sense of all that during the first couple of sessions.
  8. To summarize, if you have been struggling, it is important you receive the professional help you need and deserve. Therapy with a Registered psychologist has been proven to be helpful in many cases. You deserve to thrive!