Many people enter into counselling as they do with many other professionals – seeing the counsellor as a superior who has all the answers. The reality is that counsellors are just people. Some counsellors will be a better fit than others just in terms of personality, style of counselling, and the counsellor’s theoretical orientation (the way in which the counsellor perceives client problems). The key piece of advice I can offer is interview your counsellor. You are employing them, and you have the right to fully understand their approach and their treatment plan for you, as well as the right to feel completely comfortable with them as people. Research has shown that the number one contributing factor to the success of therapy is the relationship between the counsellor and the client, so if you are not comfortable you are probably just going to waste a lot of time and money without a lot of results. If for any reason you do not feel comfortable, find another counsellor.
When you interview a counsellor, there are several fairly straightforward questions you will likely want to ask. These might include questions regarding their qualifications (what level of education do you have, where did you go to school, how many years of experience have you had, are you registered, with which association are you registered) and practical questions (how much do you charge, how long are sessions, do you bill to insurance companies, how do you expect payment, where are you located). Also, if you are seeking a counsellor who uses a specific kind of therapeutic approach (e.g. EMDR, OEI, body therapies, play therapy, etc.) you will want to ask about their specific training in the approach as many of these require additional training to a Masters degree.
In addition to these questions, be sure to ask about their counselling style (for instance, are they really directive or do they collaborate with you; do they do a lot of teaching skills or do they focus on processing feelings, etc.). Also ask about their theoretical orientation…now the answer to this question may feel a bit over the heads of some people who aren’t into psycho-babble, but you can say something like “can you tell me a bit about how you shape your treatment, in a user-friendly kind of way?” The answer to this question will tell you a lot about what you can expect from the counsellor in your work together. Another way to approach this is to tell the counsellor about what problems you are experiencing and ask for an idea of how they would approach these issues.