In order to find a qualified counsellor in your area, it is often best to start with professional associations in your area. I know I said in the last section that there is no professional governing body that oversees the competency of counsellors…and as a profession that is true. Meanwhile, certain professional associations have been developed that counsellors can choose to register themselves with. These associations have specific criteria and qualifications that the counsellor is required to have. For example, there is the Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association which registers counsellors across the country and gives them the title of Canadian Certified Counsellor (or CCC). In British Columbia there is also the BC Association of Clinical Counsellors which registers counsellors within BC and gives them the title of Registered Clinical Counsellor (or RCC). You can find counsellor listings on each of these association’s respective websites: http://www.ccpa-accp.ca/en/ and http://www.bc-counsellors.org/. There are, of course, associations for each respective province and you can usually google them and will find a listing of counsellors registered with them.
In addition to the association websites, you can also try looking in your local yellow pages or google counsellors in your specific area. The hazard in these methods lie in the issues I mentioned earlier, that it can be more difficult to weed out qualified professionals from lay people. In the next section I will discuss how to tell the difference. In any case, if you choose to use the phone book or internet search engines, do more research than closing your eyes and pointing to one ad. Look at the counsellors website, send them an email or give a call. Often clients assume that a counsellor is a counsellor is a counsellor, but this isn’t the case. It’s important to ask questions and feel completely comfortable with the counsellor you choose. I’ll talk more about questions to ask and what to look for in the next few sections.
If you would rather not leave your decision of counsellor to the previously mentioned methods, there is also the excellent option of getting a referral. A referral is essentially someone saying “I love my counsellor, she’s great! I’ll give you her number” or “I know of a counsellor, I’ve heard really good things about her from some other people.” Referrals can come from a wide variety of sources, but can include your physician, lawyer, chiropractor, massage therapist, naturopath, church or religious group, and friends. You may also have affiliation with an organization or agency that can provide a referral including mental health associations, victim services, aboriginal support centers, legal aid, ministry of children and families, etc. Many of these people and organizations have regular need to connect the individuals they serve/support to counselling and will often build up a list of favourites who they’ve seen success with in the past.