Hamilton How to Find a Mental Health Counselor
By Terry J. Robertson, R.N., B.G.S., CPMHN
Terry J. Robertson Counseling, Consulting & Support Services
Finding a professional to help you when you are feeling vulnerable and stressed is not an easy task. Sometimes people rush into a counseling relationship without exploring who might be in the community to help them and what the person's qualifications and style of treatment are.
There are several different professionals providing mental health counseling. They may be registered nurses, doctors, social workers, psychologists or addictions counselors.
Where to find them
These tips could help you to find someone you trust and who is qualified to help you. There are a variety of sources that can provide you with information about counselors: You can:
- Talk to your family doctor
- Talk to a health care professional you might presently be in touch with. E.g: clinic, hospital, health resource centre
- Ask friends or family about people they know
- Check the telephone book, newspapers or other publications for advertisements
What to ask
Once you have the names of some counselors, make a phone call and ask these important questions:
- What are their qualifications?
- Are they licensed or registered with a professional organization?
- Do they practice in accordance with a professional Code of Ethics?
- What is the Counselor's philosophy about client care?
- What are the fees? Do they work on a sliding fee scale if you are suffering financial hardship?
What to expect
During the counseling relationship, there are certain things you can expect. These are:
- You should be able to trust the counselors and feel at ease with them
- You should NOT be forced to disclose more detail/information than you wish
- There should never be any sexual involvement between the client and the Counselor
- You should be treated with dignity and respect
- Your information will be confidential
Keeping things open
There are certain things you can do to help promote an open, honest and helpful relationship between yourself and your Counselor. They are:
- Be honest about your feelings and thoughts
- Share as much as you are able to
- Pay your bill promptly
- Let the Counselor know if you do not feel you are getting your needs met
(Terry J. Robertson is a registered nurse who has mental health counseling, consulting and support service in Calgary. She can be reached at (403) 547-4649.)