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Before You See a Counsellor


What is Counselling?

Counselling is a talking therapy that offers the possibility of discussing your problems with a professional counsellor in the hope of resolving them - or developing coping strategies to deal with them.  A professional counsellor offers the potential to offer fresh insights or alternative solutions to your problems, and is conducted in an unbiased and neutral manner.  Counselling is typically undertaken over a short term, with regular weekly sessions that may be extended if the need arises.  Sessions may take up to an hour and are conducted in the strictest confidence.

Counselling Aims

The primary aims of professional counselling is for people to feel free to discuss their problems openly, find solutions to their problems and develop a more positive outlook on life. A professional counsellor is trained to deal with a range of emotional and mental issues, including addiction, anger, anxiety, bereavement, depression, divorce, eating disorders, financial problems, terminal illnesses and, marriage and relationship problems; amongst others.  Consultations are generally one on one, but couples or group therapy are also necessary in some scenarios; e.g. marriage or family counselling. Counsellors are sometimes confused with psychotherapists, but do not generally have the same scope of skills, education and training. 

Before You See a Counsellor

Selecting a counsellor is a crucial factor in determining how successful your treatment may be.  As it is a people oriented process, feeling comfortable with and trusting your counsellor is extremely important.  Factors to consider when selecting a counsellor include:

  • Qualifications – are they registered and qualified to practise?
  • Sex – you may, or may not, feel more comfortable with a person of the same sex
  • Background – relating to your counsellor is important so choose accordingly
  • Age – some people may feel more comfortable talking to someone older 
  • Counsellors should be emphatic, good listeners, treat you as an equal and monitor your progress throughout the process. If you are not making progress with your current counsellor ask for a referral to a different therapist.  

Counselling and Psychotherapy in New Zealand

Counsellors are a self-regulated profession in New Zealand.  The New Zealand Association of Counsellors / Te Roopu Kaiwhiriwhi o Aotearoa (NZAC), and the Australian and New Zealand Association of Psychotherapists (ANZAP) are the national professional bodies which act for and monitor counsellors and psychotherapists. These associations have codes which prescribe minimum standards of ethical practice and conduct for the profession, so ensure you consult with an accredited member.



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