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How well do you know your counsellor/coach?

Some things you should know

Having been a counsellor and coach for a number of years now, it has always astounded me as to how little some clients actually know about their Counsellor/Coach (I’ll use the word counsellor from here to cover both terms) . Clients share some of their most intimate parts of their world with their Counsellor and rely on his/her expertise and guidance. Yet so many clients don’t fully understand what their counsellors qualifications or experience really are.

Some question is it really that important to know anything about your counsellor and some counsellors would argue that there is very little about themselves that they would like to share with their clients. I am not advocating that counsellors disclose to clients their full life’s history – afterall the sessions are about the client not the counsellor.

My view is that clients should find out more about their counsellor before embarking on a series of sessions. The relationship with your counsellor if a very unique and personal/intimate one and a connection with your counsellor is very important in the success of the relationship. Just a general background about the counsellor is a good start, so that clients can get a ‘feel’ for whether a counsellor is on their wave length.

I feel that understanding your counsellors qualification is of equal importance. I am a very proud member of the NZAC (New Zealand Association of Counsellors) and the ICF (International Coaching Federation) but I often wonder how many of my clients know what this means. I am not saying that being a member of these organisations makes me a fantastic practitioner, but it does hold me accountable. It demonstrates to clients that I have achieved a level of training and that there is a code of ethics that I adhere to (my website has the information on these codes if you are interested). By being a member of a professional body, it also provides clients with a process for complaint should the need arise.

Unfortunately, membership of any of the governing bodies is voluntary and at the current time there are a number of practitioners that are working with clients and have had very little or no training at all and are accountable to no-one. I am certainly not saying that all counsellors that are members of professional bodies are great and all those that aren’t are terrible. I know some excellent counsellors who have chosen not to be a member of their professional bodies for their own reasons, as I have also heard some terrible stories about counsellors who are members of their professional bodies and clients have had a horrendous experience (but due to lack of knowledge were not in a position to do anything about it.)

My encouragement is for all clients to at the very least check out in more detail information about your counsellor and ask them about their training and qualifications. At least then as a client you know who it is you are working with and you can make an informed choice.