a woman talking to their counsellor

How to choose a counsellor

How can counselling help

How to choose a counsellor

When seeking the professional support of a counsellor or psychotherapist, it is strongly recommended that you choose a counsellor or psychotherapist who is on an accredited register. There are several accredited registers, including ACC’s, that regulate the profession of counselling and psychotherapy and have been accredited by the Professional Standards Authority (PSA).

psa logoCounsellors and psychotherapists who are on an accredited register will display the PSA quality mark (on the right) alongside their profile. This quality mark means they have met the required training and practice standards in the counselling profession in the UK, are working under a code of ethics, and are subject to complaints.

It is recommended that you don’t receive counselling/psychotherapy from anyone you already know as a friend, in your social circles, in your faith community, or in your workplace. Where possible, trainee counsellors should not receive counselling from their trainers/tutors.

Before you begin to search for a counsellor, it is recommended that you take some time to think about what issues/events/experiences are bringing you to counselling and what you are hoping to achieve from having counselling. This will help to guide your search for a counsellor/psychotherapist experienced in these areas.

The first meeting with a counsellor/psychotherapist may be referred to as an ‘initial assessment’. You may be asked questions during this time for the counsellor to gain an understanding of the reasons why you are seeking support and what you hope to gain through the counselling.

It is helpful to remember that this is also your opportunity to assess whether you have chosen the right person to meet your needs, so be prepared to be able to ask questions to ensure you are confident of a good match.

Student, registered and accredited – what do they mean?

Student counsellors

If you seek counselling from a counselling agency, they are likely to have student counsellors who are on placement as part of the requirement of their training. Student counsellors doing placement should have been assessed and deemed as fit to practice by their colleges/training providers, and have gone through the agency’s interview process to be offered placement. It’s likely that during the initial appointment/assessment, you’ll be asked whether you would accept seeing a student counsellor. You can choose to accept or not to accept, and it will not affect you receiving counselling from the agency.

Registered counsellors

All ACC registered counsellors/psychotherapists have met or exceeded the minimum requirements to be on ACC’s accredited register. Please visit Join ACC Register for further information on the requirements.

Accredited/senior accredited counsellors

Some counsellors/psychotherapists choose to undergo a further assessment process called accreditation and are known as accredited or senior accredited therapists. Please visit Accreditation for further information on the criteria.

For a helpful guide on different membership categories across counselling professional bodies, including ACC, please see the SCoPEd Framework (specifically P13). Both ACC registered counsellors and accredited/senior accredited counsellors will have their membership category clearly displayed on their register entry and on Find a Counsellor. If you would like to know more about the different categories of ACC members, please contact us at office@acc-uk.org.

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