Frequently Asked Questions about Counselling

What should I look out for when choosing a Counselling Professional?

Many people find it difficult to discern who is qualified when choosing a counsellor / therapist and it can be difficult understanding what to look for to ensure you are dealing with a trained and qualified professional who can meet your needs. Currently anyone can work as a counsellor with minimal training and without membership to a governing association.

Must ask questions of a therapist.

• Do you have formal qualifications from a university such as a Masters degree in counselling?
• Do you have specific post graduate training in couples counselling or family therapy?
• Do you have Full Member status of a National Association such as NZAC?

Do formal qualification matter?

Not all people who work as counsellors have formal qualifications in Counselling such as a Masters Degree in Counselling. Some have no relevant qualifications or Social Work degrees, Teaching diplomas, or certificates in counselling, hypnotherapy or coaching. Holding a Masters degree specifically in Counselling provides assurance that a Counsellor has the theoretical skills to provide a quality and effective service to you.

Regardless of approach taken to manage the problems faced, respect for you and the situations you are facing should be what most counsellors will have in common. Their main concern will be you and your well being. They want to understand what’s important to you because that helps them to work with you more effectively.

If you’re still wondering if counselling would be helpful for you, then ring a few counsellors up, talk to them about what they do, and how they go about bringing about the desired changes in your life. Ask them about their approach, their beliefs about people, problems and change. Get a sense of how comfortable you feel as well how skilled the counsellor may be in making the difference needed in your situation.

It is often helpful to ring a few counsellors up and pick the one that suits you best. One that you feel most comfortable with.

Can a relationship survive an affair?

Yes, but it depends on the circumstances. Some affairs are a ‘cry for help’. Relationships can survive this, but it’s a huge challenge. The work is slow and painful, but repair and building trust is possible. Other affairs occur because, for whatever reason, a cheating partner isn’t really invested in the primary relationship. If this is the case, many people feel so disregarded that they decide it’s better not to be in a relationship with them.

Does a lack of sex cause an affair?

Research shows that lack of sex is usually caused by a lack of intimacy which results from a lack of honest, robust communication. So you could say the lack of communication increases likelihood of someone being receptive to an affair.

A healthy sex life is a sign of a healthy relationship. Apart from times of illness, stress, early parenthood etc, resentment is the biggest libido killer. It’s important to address underlying issues that are preventing intimacy and sabotaging sex.

If you had to narrow it down, what is the single most important thing in any relationship?

I believe it’s a person’s relationship with themselves. If you have a negative self-image, you will project this into your relationships. Interestingly, the times we are unhappiest in ourselves often coincide with the times we are unhappiest in our relationship.

Should the person who had the affair confess to every detail or will that just cause further hurt?

This is a double-edged sword. The cheated partner will want the information to make sense of their experience because they often feel like they are going crazy, especially if the affair has been denied. Honesty is also important to rebuild trust. But every detail will have a traumatic impact. This is a delicate balance that really needs to be managed in therapy.

What happens in counselling?

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I see counselling as a process during which difficulties and concerns and the effects they have on you and your relationships can be discussed and explored within a confidential environment. It is an opportunity for you to be listened to carefully and sensitively while exploring new possibilities of how to live life and clarify the direction you wish your life to take.

It can be about helping to sort out what and how you would like things to be different, identifying options open to you and supporting you to make decisions that will make a difference to you and how you live. Many people find speaking with a trained counselling professional helpful in the process of developing more satisfying, resourceful and life enhancing ways of living.

Is belonging to a professional affiliation such as the NZAC important?

At this point in time anyone including lay people can call themselves a counsellor and advertise as providing counselling without the necessary training or any training at all. Even other helping professionals such as hypnotherapists, social workers and psychologists can promote themselves as counselors without any specific counselling training or experience.

As a prospective client you should be able to check and verify that a counsellor has current professional counselling association membership status to ensure you are dealing with a effective, experienced and accountable professional.

I have been a full member of the New Zealand Association of Counsellors (NZAC) and have been since 1995. The NZAC is the national professional association which acts for and with counsellors to monitor and improve the service they provide. The NZAC are in the process or trying to make a Masters Degree mandatory in belonging to their association.

If you have any further questions about counselling please contact me.

“Would you let an unqualified, unregistered electrician rewire your house? Not all counsellors have formal qualifications or belong to a National organization such as NZAC. I personally would not recommend anyone who does not meet the requirements of the NZAC.”

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