Questions to ask counsellors

You should always have a list of questions to ask counsellors who you are thinking of working with. While some questions should be about how the counsellor can help your particular issue, there are some others which are more general. This page is part of the choosing a counsellor topic.

It is important to realise that, unlike psychologists, the title ‘counsellor’ is not protected, which means anyone can call themselves a counsellor. Counsellor’s who provide answers to the first six questions will probably meet the necessary standard for professional membership of the main counselling bodies in the UK. Those that do not, in my opinion, should be avoided. 

If a counsellor is not a member of a professional body they may have either failed to meet industry membership standards or have been deregistered for disciplinary reasons. Non-registered counsellors may also be professionals who have been deregistered from other disciplines. Such “counsellors” might try to tell you that standards are not necessary or they have alternative qualifications etc. Just think whether you would want your accountant, dentist, doctor or solicitor telling you the same thing!

Before you invest your time, money and emotional wellbeing to a counsellor, please take the time to ensure the counsellor you are intending to see is professionally qualified and registered with a professional body.

Do you abide by a Code of Ethics that informs your practice?

I abide but the Code of Ethics of my professional body the National Counselling Society which can be found here.

Do you have professional indemnity and public liability insurance?

Yes. I am insured by Towergate Professional Solutions.

Are you an accredited member of a professional body (NCS/BACP etc)?

I am an accredited member of the National Counselling Society; my details can be found by following this link.

What are your hourly rates and are there any other costs involved?

All costs are clearly stated on my website: follow the link for details

Do you take notes? If so, what happens to them? Can I read them and if not, why not?

I do take notes during the session to help me draw concepts and issues together and as an aide memoire. I retain the notes for duration of our work together and then delete them. You are welcome to see my handwritten notes – but I do warn you my handwriting is as bad as your GPs!

What are my rights of complaint?

Hopefully, this situation will never occur. However, if you are unhappy with my work, and we do not resolve the problem, you are entitled to contact my professional body and make a formal complaint. The NCS, as other professional bodies would, conduct an investigation and, if your complaint is upheld, the counsellor is sanctioned. The complaints procedure for the NCS can be found by following the link.

How regularly do you see people?

Typically, my recommendation is for new clients to start once a week for 60 minutes. Once we know each other better and what issues we are dealing with, we can assess whether it would be helpful to increase to twice a week, decrease to once every 2-3 weeks, or keep it the same.

I do see clients for single sessions to focus on a specific issue for them.

What approach to counselling do you take?

See this page for an answer

Do you receive regular professional supervision?

Yes I do; I have monthly supervision. I do not provide details of my supervisor as the arrangement I have is private.

What counselling qualifications do you have? Are theyrecongisned by a professional body?

I hold a diploma in general counselling and psychotherapy, which fulfils the requirement of the NCS alongside a specialist Postgraduate Diploma (Counselling in Organisational Settings) and higher level degrees in the counselling field (MSc in Counselling Research and PhD in Human Learning and Development which have been accepted by the NCS.

Have you completed your training as a counsellor?

The answer to this should actually be no! Although we need to have completed our general training to attain professional accreditation, our training is never truly finished. We should always be aware of what we can learn from the clients we work with ,and the ever-changing social, politics and cultural environment in which we live. A counsellor should always be wiling to understand more about themselves and others.

How long is a normal counselling session?

(Sessions should average between 40 & 60 minutes and no longer than 2 hours). Although many counsellors use what is described as a therapeutic hour (50 minutes), there is no real evidence that this is the most effective length of a session. I tend to work with people for 60 minutes; however, I do offer sessions of up to two hours for those who request them dhe to work commitments or distance to be travelled, or simply that they want to have an intense focus on an issue in a single session. 

What happens if the session goes over time?

Occasionally, it is necessary to allow a session to go over time by a few minutes, in such circumstances you will not be charged.

How many years have you been practicing?

I have worked as a professional therapist since 2004. I initially trained as a hypnotherapist before completing my initial counselling and psychotherapy training in 2006.